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Edinburgh: T. & T. CLARK, 38 George Street 


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PrinUA by 
Morrison & Gxbb Liuitsd, 




HEW York: charles scribner's sons 




The Name of Jesus ....... 1 

The Magi .... 


The Two Baptisms 


A Question of Life 


The First Beatitude 


The Puke in Heart 


The Salt of the Earth 


A Conservative Reformer 


The Lord's Prater 


The First Things First 


The Golden Eulb 


Choosing a Eoad 


The Leper .... 


The Physician . 


The Ministry of Small Things 


The Great Invitation . 


Rest under the Yoke . 


My Church 


The Keys of the Kingdom 

. 301 

The Cost of Disoipleship 


The Transfiguration . 


Eternal Life 


The Ministering Master 


The Good and Faithful Servant 

. 391 

Unto Mb .... 


The Blood of the Covenant . 

. 419 

Christ's Parting Charge 

. 435 



St. Matthew. 

























. VIII. 

























. 40 


. 28 


. 18-20 












207 1^ 




, 287 " 

. 319 
, 337 
. 361 
. 379 
. 393 
. 407 
. 421 
. 437 

The Name op Jesus. 



Bell (C. D.), The Name above Every Name, 1. 

Butler (W. J.), Sermons for Working Men, 26. 

Calthrop (G.), Pulfit Recollections, 115. 

Cottam (S. E.), New Sermons for a New Century, 187. 

Deshon (G.), Sermons for the Ecclesiastical Year, 74. 

Dewhurst (E. M.), The King and His Servants, 25. 

Edmunds (C. C), Sermons on the Oospels, 77. 

English (E.), Sermons and Homilies, 43. 

Grant (W.), Christ our Hope, 175. 

Gregg (J.), Sermons Preached in Trinity Church, Dublin, 142. 

Gwatkin (H. M.), The Eye for Spiritual Things, 179. 

Harris (S. S.), The Dignity of Man, 122. 

Hawthorne (J. B.), in The Southern Baptist Pulpit, 91. 

Kingsley (C), Sermons for the Times, 42. 

MacDonald (G.), The Hope of the Gospel, 1. 

Macgregor (G. H. C), The All-Sufficient Saviour, 9. 

Maolaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew i.-viii., 12. 

MacNicol (D. C), Some Memories and Memoirs, 79. 

Manning (H. E.), Sermons, iv. 44. 

Masterman (J. H. B.), The Challenge of Christ, 62. 

Kamage (W.), Sermons, 54. 

Smith (G. S.), Victory over Sin and Death, 1. 

Spurgeon (0. H.), Metropolitcm Tabernacle Pulpit, xxiv. (1878), No. 

Watson (J.), Respectable Sins, 163. 
Wilson (J. M.), Truths New and Old, 41. 
Christiam Wm-ld Pulpit, Ivi. 186 (L. Abbott). 
Churchman's Pulpit : First Sunday after Christmas, iii. 66 (J. S. 

Record, Jan. 8, 1909 (G. R. Balleine). 

The Name of Jesus. 

And she shall bring forth a son ; and thou shalt call his name Jesus ; for 
it is he that shall save his people from their sins. — Matt. i. 21. 

1. At the beginning of history, names must be invented; in 
the course of ages, they become hereditary. The Baptist was 
about to be called Zacharias, for that was his father's name. 
But in early times the Hebrews made names for their children. 
The name was often a memorial of some circumstance connected 
with the birth, or descriptive of the child's appearance, or expres- 
sive of the hopes entertained of him. In this last case, the name 
might turn out to be most inappropriate, and become a sad 
record of blighted expectations. The first child born into the 
world was called by a name which betokened the fond hope of 
his mother that he would prove a treasure to her; but the 
infamy of his evil life bitterly put to flight that bright dream. 
Our eyes are dim ; we cannot see through the mist of the 
future, and foretell what our children shall be in after years. 
We may bestow on them beautiful names, but, to use the striking 
comparison of Solomon, this fine name may be as a "jewel of gold 
in a swine's snout," the symbol of qualities of which they are 
wholly destitute. 

2. Had it been left to human wisdom to invent a name for the 
Child of the Virgin, we can hardly form a guess of what the 
result would have been. Not a little friendly discussion is some- 
times excited by the difficulty of fixing on a name. But this 
case was peculiar. Here was a Child unlike any that had ever 
been born of woman. How perplexing it would have been to 
find a name sufficiently expressive and obviously appropriate. 
But the point was settled by God Himself. The right to deter- 
mine the name of the child belongs to the parent; and how 
infinitely competent in this case was the Father to give His Son 


the most suitable name. None knew the Son but the Father, and 
His decision must be accepted, not only as final, but as the best 
that could have been come to. The name selected was beautifully 
simple. A child may be taught to lisp it, and the dullest 
memory can retain it. Divine greatness is unostentatious. The 
simplest word in our language is "God," and the next to it is 
" Jesus." 

^ If thou wilt be well with God, and have grace to rule thy 
life aright ; and come to the joy of love : this name Jesus fasten 
it BO fast in thy heart that it never come out of thy thought. 
And when thou speakest to Him, and sayest "Jesus" through 
custom, it shall be in thine ears joy, in thy mouth honey, in thy 
heart melody.* 

The Associations of the Name. 

1. The name " Jesus " was no new name, coined in the courts 
of heaven, and carried to earth for the first time by the lips of 
the angel messenger. A new name is cold and meaningless, and 
stirs no memories of the past. There is a warmth about an old 
familiar name which no new combination of letters can ever 
hope to rival, and so it was an old name, a name with a history 
behind it, that the angel gave to the unborn Son of Mary. There 
was more than one little Jewish boy who bore that name at that 
very time. In the high priest's family alone there were no less 
than three, each of whom would one day be high priest in his 
turn. There was Jesus, son of Sapphia, who would one day 
become a famous brigand chief, and, still more famous, Jesus 
surnamed Barabbas, whom the people would prefer one day 
to Jesus surnamed Christ. There was Jesus Justus, who would 
one day become the trusted helper of St. Paul, and Jesus the 
father of Elymas, the sorcerer, St. Paul's opponent in Cyprus, 
There was Jesus the friend of Josephus, and Jesus Thebuti the 
priest, and Jesus the peasant, who would one day terrify Jerusalem 
with his cries. Over many a little living Jesus a mother's head 
was bending on the day when Mary clasped her new-born baby to 
her bosom. How came it that so many boys were called by the 

1 Richard EoUe. 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 5 

same name ? We know what makes a name popular at the 
present day ; it is because that name is borne by the popular hero 
of the hour. How many girls were christened Florence, after 
the lady with the lamp ! The Boer war produced a never-ending 
crop of little Eoberts. And so it has always been. Those Jewish 
boys were all called Jesus after two great national heroes who 
had borne that name in the past. 

2. Who were those heroes? Where do we find the name 
"Jesus" in the Old Testament? We do not find it anywhere, 
nor do we expect to find it ; for we are all familiar with the way 
a name changes as it passes from one language to another — how, 
for example, the Hebrew Johanan becomes in English John, and 
in German Hans, and in Eussian Ivan, and in Spanish Juan, and 
in Italian Giovanni; the name is the same, but the form varies 
according to the language. Now the Old Testament and the 
New Testament were written in different languages. The Old 
Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament 
was written in Greek; and thus the same names appear under 
different forms. Elijah, for example, in the New Testament is 
always called Elias. And so when we search the Hebrew Old 
Testament for the Greek name Jesus we shall expect to find 
some change in the spelling. 

(1) As a matter of fact we meet the name for the first time 
in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Numbers and the six- 
teenth verse, where we read that " Moses called Hoshea the son of 
Nun Joshua " (which means " Jehovah is salvation "). Jesus and 
Joshua are exactly the same name, only one is the Greek form 
and the other is the Hebrew. Joshua the son of Nun the 
commander-in-chief of the Lord's people, under whom they con- 
quered their inheritance, the leader who brought them out of the 
desert to the land of milk and honey, the captain who ever led 
them to victory, though foes were strong and crafty, the ruler 
who settled every family in the precise position which God ap- 
pointed for it, and there gave it rest — he is the first who bears 
the name " Jesus " in the pages of history. 

(2) But this Jesus died, and the centuries passed on, and a 
time came when the people lost the land that had been given 
them, when for their sins they were carried away captive to 


Babylon, and then, after forty miserable years, the second Jesus 
came— Jeshua the high priest, who led the people back to the 
land that had been lost by sin ; Jeshua, who rebuilt the Temple 
and restored the worship of God ; Jeshua, who was crowned with 
gold by the prophet Zechariah, as the type and forerunner of a 
greater High Priest who was to come ; Jeshua, the son of Jehozadak, 
was the second Jesus in history. 

3. And now we can appreciate something of the associations 
of the name ; we can realize a little of what the message, " Thou 
shalt call his name Jesus," would mean to a pious Jew like Joseph. 
Thou shalt name Him after the great captain who drove the 
Canaanites from the land. Thou shalt name Him after the great 
high priest who brought back the people out of bondage. Thou 
shalt call Him Jesus ; for He, too, shall be a Saviour. " He shall 
save his people from their sins." 

^ Man is the principle of the religion of the Neo-Hegelians, 
and intellect is the climax of man. Their religion, then, is the 
religion of intellect. There you have the two worlds: Christi- 
anity brings and preaches salvation by the conversion of the will, 
— humanism by the emancipation of the mind. One attacks the 
heart, the other the brain. Both wish to enable man to reach his 
ideal. But the ideal suffers, if not by its content, at least by the 
disposition of its content, by the predominance and sovereignty 
given to this or that inner power. For one, the mind is the organ 
of the soul ; for the other, the soul is an inferior state of the mind; 
the one wishes to enlighten by making better, the other to make 
better by enlightening. It is the difference between Socrates and 
Jesus. The cardinal question is that of sin. The question of 
immanence or of dualism is secondary. The Trinity, the life to 
come, paradise and hell, may cease to be dogmas and spiritual 
realities, the form and the letter may vanish away, — the question 
of humanity remains : What is it which saves ? ^ 


The Meaning of the Name. 

1. In one sense, there is nothing in a name. The nature of the 
thing is independent of it. It is not in the power of any name 
' Amiel's Journal (trans, by Mrs. Humphry Ward), 11. 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 7 

to make evil good, or good evil ; and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, 
would have been what He is, by whatever name He had been 
called. But in another view there is something in a name. It 
stands for the thing, and, through frequent use, comes to be 
identified with it. It is therefore, of the highest moment that the 
name should correspond with the thing, and convey a correct idea 
of it. Exactness of thought requires exactness of language. 
Knowledge depends for its accuracy on the right use of words, 
and the great instructors of mankind are as careful of the expres- 
sion as of the idea. Words are things. We deal with them, not as 
sounds but as substances, and look not so much at them as at 
the verities in them. Names are persons. When one is mentioned 
in our hearing, it brings the man before us, and awakens the 
feelings which would be excited if he were present himself. 

Now, we may see this, above all, in the adorable name of 
Jesus. That name, above all others, ought to show us what a 
name means ; for it is the name of the Son of Man, the one 
perfect and sinless man, the pattern of all men ; and therefore it 
must be a perfect name, and a pattern for all names. And it was 
given to the Lord not by man, but by God; and therefore it 
must show and mean not merely some outward accident about 
Him, something which He seemed to be, or looked like, in 
men's eyes; no, the name of Jesus must mean what the Lord 
was in the sight of His Father in Heaven; what He was in 
the eternal purpose of God the Father; what He was, really 
and absolutely, in Himself; it must mean and declare the 
very substance of His being. And so, indeed, it does; for the 
adorable name of Jesus means nothing else but God the Saviour 
— God who saves. This is His name, and was, and ever will be. 
This name He fulfilled on earth, and proved it to be His character. 
His exact description. His very name, in short, which made Him 
different from all other beings in heaven or earth, create or un- 
create; and therefore He bears His name to all eternity, for a 
mark of what He has been, and is, and will be for ever — God 
the Saviour ; and this is the perfect name, the pattern of all other 
names of men. 

^ When Adam named all the beasts, we read that whatsoever 
he called any beast, that was the name of it. The names which 
he gave described each beast ; they were taken from something 


in its appearance, or its ways and habits, and so each was its 
right name, the name which expressed its nature. And so now, 
when learned men discover animals or plants in foreign countries, 
they do not give them names at random, but take care to invent 
names for them which may describe their natures, and make 
people understand what they are like. And much more, in old 
times, had the names of men a meaning. If it was reasonable to 
give names full of meaning to each kind of dumb animal, much 
more to each man separately, for each man has a character 
different from all others, a calling different from all others, and 
therefore he ought to have his own name separate from all others. 
Accordingly in old times it was the custom to give each child 
a separate name, which had a meaning in it which was, as it 
were, a description of the child, or of something particular about 
the child.i 

2. The name " Jesus," then, means Saviour. What does He 
save men from ? 

(1) Jesus saves from ignorance. If we consider the incarnate 
life of the Son of God as a theophany and a revealing, we see at 
once what power it had, and still has, to rescue man from the 
blind error which is a part of sin. In Jesus, man sees God as He 
is. And awakened by this vision, he sees time and the world as 
they really are. The false theories of life on which he proceeds 
are all contradicted in Him. Every falsehood which the world's 
enchantment tells, every delusion which it weaves with its 
Cireean spell, finds its refutation in Him. Part of the power of 
sin lies in its specious delusions. Among these delusions is the 
lie that the world is all ; the lie that sensual pleasure is good, that 
passion is strong, that pride is majestic, that disobedience is wise. 
Jesus came and refuted all these immemorial lies. 

(2) But if He is only a lawgiver, or a teacher of Divine truth, 
or a finger-board to direct us in the way of righteousness. He is 
insufficient for our needs. The man who teaches me the truth is 
not himself the truth. And if Jesus is only a teacher of the way 
of salvation, He is not Himself salvation. It is true that man is 
sadly and fearfully ignorant both of himself and of the infinite 
God to whom he must give account for the deeds done in the 
body; and it is also true that by coming to Christ he can be 
relieved of this ignorance. But if Jesus is only a pedagogue or 

' C. Kingsley. 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 g 

schoolmaster, He does not touch the deepest necessities of man's 
condition. Such a view of Him may improve a man's morals, and 
elevate him somewhat in other respects, but it can never save 
him from the power and consequences of sin. Jesus is Himself 
the salvation which He taught, and which He commissioned His 
disciples to preach. He is the wisdom, the grace, the mercy, and 
the power that save men from their sins. 

Tf As Laurence Oliphant lay dying, the dear and sacred name 
of Jesus was ever on his tongue. There had been times in his 
life when he had spoken it with an accent of perhaps less rever- 
ence than was congenial to listeners probably less devout than he, 
but holding a more absolute view of our Lord's position and work 
— as there had been times when he had called himself not a 
Christian, in the ordinary meaning of the word. But no one 
could doubt now of his entire and loving reception of that name 
as his own highest hope as well as that of all the world. A day 
or two before his death he called his faithful nurse early in the 
morning, probably in that rising of the energies which comes 
with the brightness of the day, and told her that he was " un- 
speakably happy." "Christ has touched me. He has held me 
in His arms. I am changed — He has changed me. Never again 
can I be the same, for His power has cleansed me ; I am a new 
man." " Then he looked at me yearningly," she adds, " and said, 
' Do you understand ? '" i 

^ Many years ago there was a great famine of water in a town 
in the south of France. It was a hot summer, no rain fell for 
months, and as the people always suffered from the want of water, 
this dry, hot season greatly increased their sufferings, and many 
of them died. A few miles away from the town was a range of 
hills ; in the hills were some beautiful springs of water, but the 
labour and expense of bringing the water from the springs to the 
town was so great that very little of it could be brought. In this 
town there lived a young man whom we shall call Jean. He was 
industrious and good, and was shortly to be married to a beautiful 
young woman, whom he dearly loved. But all at once the 
marriage was put off, the young man began to go about in old 
clothes, took very little to eat, gave up his pleasant home and 
went to live in a garret, and, in short, became a thorough miser. 
He went to bed in the dark to save candle, begged other people's 
cast-off clothing, and very soon became changed from a blithe and 
happy young man into a wretched-looking old one. Nobody 
loved him now. His charming bride forgot him, and married 
' M. 0. W. Oliphant, Memoir of the Life of Laurence Oliphant, 403, 


another man ; the children called him names in the streets, and 
everybody shunned his house. After many years of wretched- 
ness he died. When his relatives went to search his room they 
found him almost wasted to a skeleton, and all his furniture sold, 
whUe the old man's body was lying upon a heap of straw. 
Under his head they found a will, and what do you think was 
in it ? This : that in that dreadful summer, forty years ago, Jean 
had been so saddened by the dreadful suffering of the people — 
especially of the children — for want of water, that he had given 
up his young bride, his pleasant home, his happy prospects, and 
had devoted himself day and night all through the weary years 
to working and saving, so that the people might have the beautiful 
water brought to them from the distant springs in the hillside. 
Oh, how everybody blessed that old man ! A reservoir was made 
in the hills, pipes were laid under the ground, and the water was 
brought into the town so freely that its inhabitants never thirsted 
any more. The old man did not create the water, neither did he 
make the people thirst, he simply brought the living water and 
the dying people together — and he sacrificed himself in doing it. 
Now that is just how Jesus saves men. He did not make God 
love them — God always loved them. He did not create God's 
love or mercy — those great springs of blessing were and always 
are in the great heart of God. He did not make men sinful and 
sad so that they needed these things; but He brought these 
springs of love and blessing down to the men that were dying 
for the need of them. He is the channel through which God's 
love comes to us. From God, but through Christ, we receive all 
the blessings of salvation. Jesus brought all these good things to 
us, and sacrificed Himself in doing so.^ 

(3) But if man is to be saved, he must be saved not only from 
sin's guilt, and sin's defilement, but from sin's power. If man 
is to be fully saved, not only must he, in the infinite mercy of 
God, be treated as righteous, he must become actually righteous 
and holy and good. This is the ultimate purpose of God. He 
removes man's condemnation. He forgives man's sin, in order that 
he may become holy. Forgiveness and justification are in order 
to holiness. But man cannot be personally holy until he is set 
free from the enslaving power of sin. He, therefore, who would 
be the Saviour of man must deal with this. How does Jesus deal 
with it ? He deals with it as our Lord and King, dwelling and 
reigning within us by the Holy Ghost. Eemember, the Jesus 

1 J. Colwell. 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 11 

who shall save His people from their sins is One who lives. He 
is One who is possessed of all power. He takes men so into 
union with Himself that they are within the circle of His life. 
They are in Him as the branch is in the vine. So their weakness is 
turned into might, by the advent of His strength into their lives. 
The sin which strives to enslave the believer finds that it has to 
deal with the believer's Lord. And by that Lord it is defeated ; 
its power is broken and its dominion for ever overthrown. The dis- 
ease which we cannot shake off flies before Him ; the fire which 
we could not quench is by Him put out ; the evil root is eradi- 
cated, the mighty current stemmed. The strong man armed 
meets the stronger than he, and is despoiled. In Him we conquer 
sin. His power turns the scale of battle in our favour. Sin has not 
dominion over us. The law of the spirit of life makes us free 
from the law of sin and death. So we not only will the will of 
God, but also do it. He makes us perfect in every good work to do 
His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

^ The one cure for any organism is to be set right — to have 
all its parts brought into harmony with each other; the one 
comfort is to know this cure in process. Kightness alone is cure. 
The return of the organism to its true self is its only possible 
ease. To free a man from suffering, he must be set right, put in 
health ; and the health at the root of man's being, his rightness, 
is to be free from wrongness, that is, from sin. A man is right 
when there is no wrong in him. The wrong, the evil, is in him ; 
he must be set free from it. I do not mean set free from the 
sins he has done ; that will follow ; I mean the sins he is doing, 
or is capable of doing; the sins in his being which spoil his 
nature, the wrongness in him, the evil he consents to ; the sin he 
is, which makes him do the sin he does. To save a man from his 
sins is to say to him, in sense perfect and eternal, " Eise up and 
walk. Be at liberty in thy essential being. Be free as the Son 
of Grod is free." To do this for us Jesus was born and remains 
born to all the ages.'- 

' George MaoDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, 6. 



The Powbe of the Name. 

1. The angel said to Joseph, " Thou shalt call his name Jesus," 
and to-day what name is there so great as this ? What other so 
enduring ? It has lived through anarchy and revolution, through 
storm and change, decay and death. Other names since then, 
and many of them accounted great — names which held the world 
in awe, which blanched the cheek, and made men tremble — have 
passed into oblivion ; but this name is as fresh as ever, and far 
more powerful than it was of old. It is the earliest name that 
Christian parents breathe into their children's ears ; the first they 
teach them to lisp, as they lie in their lap, or stand at their knee. 
It is the gracious name woven into all our prayers and mingling 
with all our praises. 

It is the great name which many a learned and holy man has 
felt it his highest privilege, his most sacred duty, to proclaim. 
It is the precious name which the evangelist takes to the poorest 
and most wretched alleys of our cities and towns, knowing that 
it can lift the burden of sin and sorrow from the soul, and fill it 
with peace and purity and strength. It is the all-powerful name 
which the Church is occupied in sending to the farthest places of 
the earth, that the nations may be turned " from darkness to light, 
and from the power of Satan unto God." It is the hallowed 
name in which the civilized peoples of the globe enact their laws, 
crown their kings, fight their battles, and celebrate their vic- 
tories. It is the Divine name on whose authority we sanctify the 
dearest relationships of life, baptize the child at the font, bless 
the union at the marriage altar, and commit our dead to the grave. 
And wherever this name is proclaimed, it is inspiring faith, hope, 
and love. Many who hear it place their trust in the Saviour, 
and look to Him as the Source of all blessing, the Well-spring of 
all joy. 

If Who does not know what is the power of the name of father 
or mother, sister or brother ? What visions they bring back upon 
us : what a stream of memories ; of years long passed away, of 
careless childhood, bright mornings', lingering twilights, the early 
dawn, the evening star, and all the long-vanished world of happy, 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 13 

unanxious thoughts, with the loves, hopes, smiles, and tenderness 
of days gone by. Who does not know what visions of maturer 
life come and go with the sound of a name, of one familiar word 
— the symbol of a whole order now no more ? The greater part 
of our consciousness is summed up in memory ; the present is but 
a moment, ever flowing, past almost as soon as come. Our life is 
either behind us or before ; the future in hope and expectation, 
the past in trial and remembrance. Our life to come is little 
realized as yet; we have some dim outlines of things unseen, 
forecastings of realities behind the veil, and objects of faith be- 
yond the grave ; but all this is too Divine and high. We can 
hardly conceive it; at best faintly, often not at all. Our chief 
consciousness of life is in the past, which yet hangs about us as 
an atmosphere peopled with forms and memories. They live for 
us now in names, beloved and blessed.^ 

2. There is nothing which His name has not hallowed and 
glorified. The commonest things of earth have now a higher 
and holier meaning than they ever had before, or ever could have 
had without Him. A virtue has flowed out of Him into every- 
thing He has touched. Has not labour become nobler since He 
sat at Nazareth on the carpenter's bench ? Has not childhood 
become more sacred since He took little children up in His arms, 
put His hands upon them, and blessed them ? Has not woman 
been elevated since He lay in a woman's arms, and was clasped 
to a woman's heart ? Has not penitence become more holy since 
the Magdalen fell at His feet to wash them with her tears, and 
wipe them with the hairs of her head? Has not sorrow been 
more heavenly since the "Man of Sorrows" wept bitter tears, 
cried out in the agony of His bloody sweat, and suffered on 
Calvary ? Has not death changed its character since He died and, 
robbing the arch-fiend of his sting and turning the tide of battle, 
wrested from the last enemy the victory? Has not the grave 
become brighter since He lay in the rocky tomb under linen 
napkin and shroud ? The very cross itself, that " accursed tree," 
that symbol of shame, has been transfigured into an emblem of 
all that is dearest to the Christian heart or that is holiest in the 
Christian faith. And not only things but persons also have been 
transfigured by contact with Jesus. Sinners have become saints ; 
fishermen, apostles; publicans, disciples. A persecuting and 
> H. E. Manning, Sermons, vr. 46. 


blaspheming Saul has been changed into a holy and loving Paul. 
It may be recorded of all who drew near Him that " as many as 
touched were made perfectly whole." " As many as received him, 
to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them 
that believe on his name." 

^ The Saviour of the world must heal not only the breach 
between God and man, but the sickness of human nature itself. 
And this He does by implanting in man, through union with His 
own perfect nature, a supernatural principle of regeneration; a 
germ of new life which may destroy the cause of corruption, and 
arrest its progress, and make human nature again capable of union 
with God. The corrupt nature struggles still, seeks for its separate 
life away from God, a life that is no life. But the moment the 
new life is given, the helplessness, the hopelessness of the struggle 
is past. The cry of human nature, " I cannot do the things that 
I would," becomes the thankful utterance of the regenerate soul, 
" I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." ^ 

3. The name still works as a charm. As long as there is sin 
in the world, and sorrow, broken hearts and wounded spirits ; as 
long as there are chambers of sickness and death-beds, so long will 
the name of Jesus have power. The saving wonders wrought by 
Him who bears the name are continued to-day. They are con- 
tinued in the thousands of assemblies which are met in toiling 
cities, crowded towns and scattered villages, in solitary hamlets 
and on heath-clad moors, and in lonely ships ploughing the 
mighty deep. Everywhere where men of like passions with our- 
selves have gathered to worship God, Christ has thrown open the 
doors of heaven, and has sent down His Spirit to renew, to sanctify, 
to strengthen, and to console. Many shall be born again into the 
Kingdom of God, and be saved from their sins, and, receiving 
pardon, shall be given power to wrestle down strong temptations, 
and shall go forth inspired with ' a new hope and girt with a new 
strength, to be purer, better, wiser, more humble, more peaceful ; 
and all the week shall be brighter because of the worship of His 
name on His own day. 

TI It was in the course of these sermons delivered at Venice and 
in the cities of Venetia, that Bernardine's zeal for the propagation 
of devotion to the holy name of Jesus first began openly to assert 
' Aubrey L. Moore, Some Aspects of Sin. 

ST. MATTHEW i. 21 15 

itself. This devotion, which may be said to date back to the 
Pauline saying, In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur, had been 
specially fostered by the Franciscan order. We find St. Francis 
of Assisi making it the theme of many pious exhortations, while 
the holy name never crossed his lips without his voice faltering 
as though he were inwardly entranced by a heavenly melody. 
Nor was his example lost on St. Bonaventure, the author of a 
leaflet, De laude melliflui nomini Jesu. Bernardine was, there- 
fore, no innovator in striving to rekindle popular fervour towards 
a devotion which, though heretofore greatly in vogue, had, in his 
day, been cast somewhat into the shade. In his sermons our 
saint was for ever extolling the beauty and majesty, the mystery 
and efficacy of the name of Jesus, and, in order outwardly to 
embody the sentiments of piety he sought to instil into their 
hearts, we find him calling upon his hearers to inscribe the holy 
Name or one of its customary abbreviations on the walls alike of 
public buildings and of private houses. He himself had adopted the 
monogram I.H.S., which he loved to see surrounded by a circle of 
golden rays. And the adoption of this symbol he deemed particularly 
opportune in a land so overrun by paganism, since he hoped to 
see the same substituted for the Guelf and Ghibelline emblems 
with which the walls then literally swarmed, and so to set an 
outward seal on inward peace of heart. And the practice was 
adopted, and spread like wildfire throughout Venetia, where both 
ofiBcials and private individuals vied with one another in every- 
where printing or carving the sacred monogram, encircled by rays, 
until it finally became significant of Bernardine's passage and of 
the popular assent to his word.^ 

' P. Thureau-Dangin, Saint Bernardine of Siena (trans, by Baroness G. von 
Hiigel), 66. 

The Magi. 

ST. MATt. — 2 


Aitken (W. H. M. H.), The Bevealer Revealed, 17. 
Alexander (W.), The Leading Ideas of the Gospels, 49. 
Brooke (S. A.), The Early Life of Jesus, 26. 
Burrell (D. J.), The Religion of the Future, 97. 

„ „ The Wondrous Gross, 124. 

Davies (D.), TalTes with Men, Women and Children, i. 403. 
Eamea (J.), The Shattered Temple, 69. 
Hall (C. R.), Advent to Whit-Sunday, 54. 
Holland (H. S.), Vital Values, 24. 
Hort (F. J. A.), Gambridge and other Sermons, 25. 
Hunt (A. N.), Sermons for the Christian Year, i. 56. 
Jones (J. C), Studies in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 27. 
Liddon (H. P.), Christmastide Sermons, 348. 
Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew i.-viii., 19. 
Morgan (Q. C), The Crises of the Christ, 74. 
Mursell (W. A.), Sermons on Special Occasions, 107. 
Parker (J.), City Temple Pulpit, v. 2. 
Robertson (F. W.), Sermons, ii. 17. 
Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xvi. (1870), No. 967 ; 

xxix. (1883), No. 1698. 
Tipple (S. A.), The Admiring Guest, 60. 
Wilberforce (B.), The Hope that is in Me, 52. 
Christian Age, xli. 36 (T. de W. Talmage) ; slvi. 386 (P. Brooks). 
Christian World Pulpit, xlix. 40 (A. G. Brown) ; Ivii. 33 (H. S. 

Holland) ; Ixxii. 580 (A. H. Sime) ; Ixxiv. 403 (L. A. Crandall). 
Churchman's Pulpit : The Epiphany, iii. 226 (F. Field). 
Homiletic Review, Ivi. 460 (F. W. Luce). 


The Magi. 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judsa in the days of Herod 
the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where 
is he that is born King of the Jews ? for we saw his star in the east, and are 
come to worship him. — Matt. ii. i, 2. 

In the visit of the Magi we have an incident of surpassing 
imaginative beauty. All through the ages it has been glorified 
by pencil and song. Yet, singular to say, the Epiphany is the 
only scene in the sublime opening of the drama of the life of 
Jesus for which St. Matthew claims no prophecy whatever. We 
are tempted to think that he might have referred to Balaam's 
language (Num. xxiv. 17). The Church in her Epiphany services 
has seen the bending forms of kings in the dim magnificence of 
the language of psalmist and seer (Ps. Ixxii. 10-15 ; Isa. Ix. 6). 
Still the fact remains that over the Epiphany alone in these two 
chapters St. Matthew makes us hear no joy-bells of prophecy 
filling the air. If he had foreseen that he would be accused 
of translating a picture of prophecy into the language of fact, he 
could scarcely have taken a more efifectual way of defending 
himself than by omitting between vv. 11 and 12 of chap. ii. his 
familiar formula, " that it might be fulfilled." 

^ The Christians in the second century, discontented with the 
extreme plainness of the story in the Gospels, embellished it 
largely. We are told that the star sparkled more brilliantly 
than all the others in the sky. It was a strange and wondrous 
sight, for the moon and all the stars formed, as if in homage, a 
choir around it as it moved. 

Later on the wise men are represented as princes, then as 
kings. They symbolize the Trinity. They are the lords of the 
three races of men. Their gifts have spiritual, then doctrinal, 
meanings. They are supplied with names and are made the 
patron saints of travellers. As the legend grew, and Art took it 
up, they arrive at Bethlehem attended by a great crowd of 
followers, splendidly dressed, and riding on horses and camels and 



bearing treasures. Kneeling in their royal robes, they adore the 
child in the manger, and the child bends forward to bless them. 

Then come all the stories connected with them after their 
death. Their bodies rested for a long time in the magnificent 
temple that Eastern Christianity dedicated to the Divine Wisdom, 
which still bears that ancient title, though Mohammed claims it 
now instead of Christ. Milan received them next, and lost them ; 
and now for six hundred years the great cathedral of the Ehine 
has grown up above their sacred bones, representing in its 
gradual up-building, and for a long time in its unfinished glory, 
not only the slow accretion of splendid and poetic thoughts around 
the solitary and ancient story, but also the growth of all those 
stories to which we give the name of myths.^ 

•[f From time immemorial they have been regarded as kings : 

We three kings of Orient are, 
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar 
Field and fountain, moor and mountain, 
Following yonder star. 

In the cathedral at Cologne there is a golden reliquary in which 
are preserved, in the odour of sanctity, the relics of these men. 
I said to the venerable monk in attendance, "Do you really 
believe that these are the relics of the wise men ? " " Oh yes," 
he replied, " there is no question whatever as to their genuineness ; 
we know their names — Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, The 
Venerable Bede tells all about them." * 

Seeking a King. 

1. The wise men came from the East. They came from 
beyond the bounds of that chosen and favoured Israel whose were 
the covenants, the oracles, the fires of Sinai, the glory of Zion, 
and the faith of the fathers. They came, doubtless, from Persia. 
Their business was a vain attempt to read the fortunes of empires 
and of men by watching the changing positions and mutual 
attractions of the stars. No plainer revelation of God's loving- 
kindness and wisdom stood before their eyes than the cold 

*S. A. Brooke, The Early Life of Jems, 27. 
' D. J. Bnrrell, The Religion of the Future, 99. 

ST. MATTHEW ii. i, 2 21 

splendours of the midnight sky. The heavenly commandment 
and promise they must spell out in the mystic syllables of the 
constellations, or else grope on in darkness. The sun was the 
burning eye of an Unknown Deity. With night-long solemn 
vigils, they strained their eyes into the heavens ; but they 
saw no "Heaven of heavens," because they saw no Father of 
forgiveness, and no "heart of love. Their prophet was Zoroaster 
— a mysterious, if not quite mythical, person, ever vanishing in 
the shadows of an uncertain antiquity. These were the men 
whom God was leading to Bethlehem, representatives of that 
whole pagan world which He would draw to the Saviour. 

Yet these disciples of Zoroaster held the best religion of their 
time, outside of Judaism. Their sacred books prove them to have 
been no degraded or sensual idolaters. When they fed their 
sacred fires with spices and fragrant wood, it was not the fire they 
worshipped, but a strange and unseen Light, of which the fire was 
a symbol. Their Ormuzd was an Infinite Spirit, and the star 
spirits were his bright subordinates. They believed in im- 
mortality, in judgment, in prayer, in the sacredness of marriage, 
in obedience, in honesty; they practised carefully most of the 
virtues of the Christian morality, including that foundation one 
of truthfulness, which is rare enough in both East and West, and 
which Christianity has found it so hard to establish in public and 
in private life, in all its centuries of discipline. To this day, when 
the traveller or the merchant meets among the native eastern cities 
a man more intelligent, more upright, of nobler manners and 
gentler hospitality than the rest, he is almost sure to find him 
a Parsi, a descendant of those Zoroastrian students of the stars, 
brethren or children of the wise men who offered their gold, 
frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Messiah in the stable. 

2. These wise men looked for a King. " Where is he," they 
asked, " that is born King of the Jews ? " Why did their expecta- 
tions take this form? We could understand their longing for 
one who should give them bread ; or, if they had bread enough, 
should give them more gold to buy whatever would minister to 
their comfort, and pride ; or one who, since they cared for wisdom, 
should tell them hidden things that they desired to know ; or one 
who should take away the sting of a guilty conscience, and set 


them at peace with any higher god whom they might have 
offended ; or, better still, one who should cleanse their will, and 
strengthen their power to live a worthy life. But their hope, as 
we read of it, was simply in a king. The true King might indeed 
bestow all these benefits which we have been counting up ; but 
that was not what came first to their minds. In hoping for a 
king, they hoped for one who would rule them, to whom they 
should do reverence, and whom, when the time came, they should 
obey.. They felt that the first of all needs for themselves and 
for the whole distracted world was to be governed, to be 
bound together in a common work appointed by a common ruling 

^ Man is always seeking a king, for he feels in the depths of 
his being that he is never so great as in the presence of his greater. 
Let a great man appear in the world, and smaller men spon- 
taneously rally round him ; for they feel they are never so great 
as in the presence of their greater, never so noble as in doing the 
work of obedience. " He that is great among you, let him be the 
servant of all." That is an axiom engraved within us before 
Christ formulated it into words and committed it to the pages 
of inspiration. Mankind desire a king — one whose behests they 
deem it all honour to obey, and in whose presence they think it 
exaltation to bow. On what other principle can we account for 
the terrible despotisms that have crushed the world ? How were 
they possible, a few tyrannizing over millions ? They were 
possible only on one condition — that they were a response, or the 
semblance of one, to a deep craving implanted in our nature by 
the Creator. " Where is he that is born King ? " The vast 
empires were only answers to the question — false ones if you 
like, but answers nevertheless — and the poor distracted heart of 
humanity deemed any answer better than none at all.^ 

If As the magi seek a Eedeemer, so Herod fears a successor. 
If His birth as an infant makes proud kings tremble, what will 
His tribunal as a judge do ? * 

3. They sought one who was born king of the Jews. How they 

supposed at that time that this could be we know not; many 

thoughts were doubtless possible then which do not occur to us 

now. But the word assuredly meant at least thus much, that the 

expected king was not one raised to his throne by his own right 

' J. C. Jones, Studies in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 44. 
' St. Augustine, 

ST. MATTHEW ii. i, 2 23 

hand, or by the voice of men, for his strength or courage or wisdom 
or riches, but one carrying a Divine title from his birth. That 
king was not to be a Saul, not even a David, but a David's son. 
There was another king in the land already, Herod the king, as 
the Bible calls him, a powerful ruler, cruel and unscrupulous, but 
magnificent in his doings — the very ruler to draw to him men of the 
East with the charm of awe. He was no true Jew, much less of 
David's line ; there was nothing in him of the true Jew's heart, 
which was David's heart. Many of his own subjects might be 
dazzled by the one who promised to make them strong with 
earthly strength, because they were indifferent to his readiness to 
profane all that their fathers had kept holy. But to the wise 
men he could never be what they sought. They took no sort of 
account of him as they entered Jerusalem, asking, "Where is 
he that is born King of the Jews ? " 

4. Again, it was a king of the Jews that they looked for. 
How was this? They were not Jews themselves; they were 
strangers to the commonwealth of Israel. Yet there was much in 
that strange nation, so full as it seemed of undying life, again and 
again buffeted and crushed, but not yet destroyed, worshipping 
one unseen God at one holy place with psalm and sacrifice, 
which might well persuade men of the East that a wondrous future 
was in store for Israel and the ruler of Israel. This was not the 
first time that Gentile witness had been borne to the Divine 
mission of the Jewish people ; twice, at two great moments of the 
history, a voice from the world without had done homage to the 
holy race. Before the Promised Land was entered, Balaam the 
prophet of Moab had confessed the new power that was growing 
in the East : " God brought him forth out of Egypt ; he hath as it 
were the strength of an unicorn : he shall eat up the nations his 
enemies '' ; " I shall see him, but not now : I shall behold him, but 
not nigh : there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre 
shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and 
destroy all the children of Sheth." Once again, the second birth 
of the people out of their long captivity was helped and blessed 
by a king of the Gentile East, when Cyrus proclaimed that the 
Lord God of heaven had charged him to build Him an house in 
Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and sent forth the summons, " Who 


is there among you of all his people ? His God be with him, and 
let him go up." 

T[ The Messianic hope of the last half-century before Christ 
was the hope of a King, and the Psalms of Solomon see in the 
coming reign of Messiah the salvation of Israel : " Eaise up unto 
them their King, the son of David . . . and there shall be no 
iniquity in his days in their midst, for all shall be holy, and their 
King is the Lord Messiah." The charge laid against Jesus before 
the procurator was that, acting on these expectations, He had 
made Himself a king, and thus posed as a rival of Caesar. As a 
matter of fact. He had withdrawn from the multitudes when they 
would have forced Him into that false position. Yet before Pilate 
He did not deny His kingly character, only affirming, "My 
kingdom is not of this world, or not from hence." The title on the 
cross, therefore, though inexact, was not radically untrue ; a king 
lay dying there, though not one who was in any exclusive or 
earthly sense " the King of the Jews." The penitent robber came 
nearer to the truth when he said, " Jesus, remember me, when thou 
comest in thy kingdom." It was borne in upon his mind that in 
some mysterious way the Kingdom was to be reached through 
the cross, and lay beyond it ; and his words almost echo the Lord's 
description of Himself as about to go " into a far country, to 
receive for himself a kingdom and to return." ^ 


Following a Stae. 

1. "We saw his star in the east, and are come to worship 
him." While in the East they saw the star of the King of the 
Jews. They saw, probably, at first, one of the fixed stars, to 
which they were led, in the course of their inquiry, to attach this 
specific value ; and as it shone out on them night by night over 
their western horizon, they determined to walk in the direction 
from which it shone, or, as we should say, to follow it. They 
followed it, accordingly, day by day ; night by night they gazed 
wistfully at it, and then rose to follow it again ; they gazed and 
followed, and so they crossed the desert and reached the city to 
which even the heathen East had learned to ascribe an exceptional 
sanctity. And as their coming became known at gatherings of 
the priesthood, and in the palace of the king, they learned how an 

' H. B. Swete, The Ascended Christ, 17. 

ST. MATTHEW ii. i, 2 25 

ancient prophecy had ruled that He whom they sought would be 
born in Bethlehem. 

f Many a starry night I have followed a road leading due 
south, and over the road hung Betelgeux of Capella (westering 
with the others), and as I walked the star " went before me," and 
when I stopped it " stood " over farmstead or cottage. It was no 
strain of imagination to say that the star led me on; on the 
contrary, the optical illusion was so strong that while one was in 
motion one could scarcely help thinking of the star as advancing 
just as I myself advanced.^ 

^ What sort of a star was it which they tell us started them 
on their journey? Not a planet, clearly, nor a conjunction of 
planets, as Kepler first suggested ; for the planets were malign for 
the Magi. It seems most natural to think of a Nova, one of 
those sudden apparitions that tell us of a stupendous outburst in 
the depths of space, bringing to our eyes a new star that in a few 
weeks or months fades away from sight. We remember the Nova 
in Perseus which in February 1901 added a brief unit to the small 
company of our first-magnitude stars. But the Star of the Magi 
need not have been as bright as this. Professional astrologers 
would notice a new star which had no chance of observation by 
amateurs; and whether it was a Nova or not, the place of the 
star would probably count for more with them than its brilliance. 
My preference for the postulate of a Nova comes from the 
naturalness of their quest for an identification of the Fravashi 
they would associate with it. They had no doubt met with 
numerous Jews in their own country, and had knowledge of their 
Messianic hopes, which may even have struck them with their 
resemblance to their own expectation of Saoshyant. A dream 
which would supply the sought-for identification is all that is 
needed to satisfy the demands of the narrative. Their five miles' 
walk due south from Jerusalem gave time for the star, if seen low 
down in the sky in S.S.E. when they started, to be culminating 
just over Bethlehem when they drew near to the town ; and men 
so deeply convinced of the significance of stellar motions would of 
course welcome this as fresh evidence that the end of their quest 
was gained.^ 

2. The star which might lead to the cradle of the Divine 
Infant shines at some time into every human conscience. God 
endows us all, without exception, with the sense and perception 

' W. Canton, in The Expoailor, 5th Ser., ix. 471. 
' J. H. Moulton, Ea/rly Zoroastricmism, 283. 


of a distinction and a law; the distinction between right and 
wrong, whatever right and wrong may be; and the law of 
obedience to right, when once it is discovered. And if a man 
makes the most of this endowment, instead of shunning or 
scorning it or doing it violence; if he allows himself to reflect 
that such inward legislation implies a Lawgiver, and to search 
for other traces of His presence and action ; then, assuredly, is he 
on the way to learn more. 

^ The work of the inner light is that of judgment. It leads 
us to distinguish between right and wrong, and continues to lead 
us according as we are faithful to the light already given. We 
must act on these judgments. If certain things are seen, in the 
light, to be wrong, we must be faithful and put them on one side. 
Further, the light is a universal light. It informs us of truths — 
truths of faith and truths of conduct which are valid for all men. 
If we either refuse to obey the particular disclosures of truth 
given to us, or if we regard them as purely private matters, we 
do, in effect, deny the light, and fail to recognize its true character. 
It is useless to profess to believe in the inner light in general, and 
then to refuse to accept and follow the findings of the enlightened 

^ There is a light which flashes and is gone, and yet survives. 
There is a light which eludes, but never deceives. There is a 
light which guides as it flies. There is a light which comes only 
to those who seek in the night, and can feel after what they can- 
not find, and can still nurse " the unconquerable hope," and can 
never lose heart. There is a light which is for ever in motion, 
and can be retained only by moving with it. There is a light 
which is always just ahead of where you stand. You must follow 
if you would arrive; and the following must never cease. He, 
the grey magician, has done but this one thing faithfully from 
end to end of the long years. "I am Merlin, who follow the 
gleam." His whole character, his whole secret, lies in that from 
the first days when 

In early summers, 
Over the mountain, 
On human faces, 
And all around me, 
Moving to melody, 
Floated The Gleam, 

down to the end, when 

1 H. 6. "Wood, George Fox, 115. 

Therefore ; 

ST. MATTHEW ii. i, 2 27 

I can no longer, 

But die rejoicing, 

For thro' the Magic 

Of Him the Mighty, 

Who taught me in childhood, 

There on the border 

Of boundless Ocean, 

And all but in Heaven, 

Hovers The Gleam. 

O young Mariner, 
Down to the haven. 
Call your companions, 
Launch your vessel. 
And crowd your canvas. 
And, ere it vanishes 
Over the margin, 
After it, follow it — 
Follow The Gleam.^ 


Finding a Child. 

The star led the wise men to the cradle at Bethlehem, and 
" stood over the place where the young child was." The pilgrims 
entered and were satisfied. 

1. They sought a king, and found a child. There is something 
very remarkable in the fact that they came from the distant East, 
and after all their sojourning and seeking found only a Child. 
Yet it was worth all their toil and trouble to learn the hard but 
precious lesson that true greatness consists in childlikeness. The 
world all the ages through had been growing away from the Child ; 
its notions of greatness lay quite at the opposite pole. The Evil 
Spirit in his interview with our first parents succeeded in confus- 
ing the mind of the world relative to this point, and in putting the 
case altogether on a false issue. " Ye shall be as gods," said he, 
"knowing good and evil." He put likeness to God to lie in 
» H. S. Holland, VUal Values, 24. 


knowledge ; and the whole drift of the Divine education of the 
race has been to counteract that notion, and to teach us that it 
consists neither in knowledge nor in power, but in childlikeness. 
As we review the history of the world, we see it dividing itself 
into three stages. In the first, Power is magnified, Force is 
deified. The great man is the strong man. In that era Nimrod 
is the hero after the world's heart ; strength receives the homage 
of men. In the second stage Power is pushed back a step or two, 
and Intellect comes to the front. The great man is the intel- 
lectual man. In that era Homer is the favoured idol before whom 
the people delight to bow; genius receives the homage of men. 
But Christianity has inaugurated a new period; it points the 
world not to Nimrod or to Homer, but to a Child — not to Power 
or to Genius, but to Goodness. The great man of the future will 
be the good man. 

Tf I remember a time, when, if any one mentioned the names 
of Napoleon Buonaparte or the Duke of Wellington, my heart 
responded in admiration, and I wished to become a soldier. I 
remember a time after that when, if you mentioned the names of 
Shakespeare or Milton, my heart responded in admiration, and I 
wished to be a poet. Yes; I have had my heroes, and I have 
worshipped them devoutly. But, were I to tell you my experience 
to-day, it is this — I have lost a great deal of my respect for power ; 
I have lost a great deal of my admiration for genius ; the supreme 
desire of my heart to-day is that I may be a good man, a childlike 
man, one whose life and character will mirror the Divinity. The 
great man of the future will be the good man. " Blessed are the 
meek, for they shall inherit the earth." ^ 

f The Eussian peasantry have a curious tradition. It is that 
an old woman, the Baboushka, was at work in her house when 
the wise men from the East passed on their way to find the Christ 
Child. " Come with us," they said, " we have seen His star in the 
East, and go to worship Him." " I will come, but not now," she 
answered; "I have my house to set in order; when that is done, 
I will follow, and find Him." But when her work was done, the 
three kings had passed on their way across the desert, and' the 
star shone no more in the darkened heavens. She never saw 
the Christ Child, but she is living, and searching for Him still 
For His sake, she takes care of all His children. It is she who in 
Eussian homes is believed to fill the stockings and dress the tree 
on Christmas morn. The children are awakened with the cry, 
• J. C. .Tones, Studies in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 46. 

ST. MATTHEW n. i, 2 29 

" Behold the Baboushka," and spring up, hoping to see her before 
she vanishes out of the window. She fancies, the tradition goes, 
that in each poor little one whom she warms and feeds, she 
may find the Christ Child whom she neglected ages ago ; but she 
is doomed to eternal disappointment. 

2. They fell down and worshipped Him. No journey, although 
conducted with faith in the guide, will be successful unless it be 
sanctified by this bowing down of soul and body. And such wor- 
ship as this was natural to the Gentile mind. It had been abused 
by it doubtless for idolatrous purposes, but the very bowing down 
to stocks and stones, being a corruption of true worship, indicates 
what the universal tradition was before it was so diverted. And 
this is implied in the second commandment, " Thou shalt not bow 
down to them nor worship them." For as every commandment 
commands the contrary of what it forbids, so we understand that 
the commandment is not fulfilled by merely not bowing down to 
idols, unless we also bow down and worship God. And hence 
Gentile Christianity began with this idea of worship. 

^ Wise men from afar are still seeking that cradle. All the 
great religions of the earth are really feeling for Christ. The con- 
summation of all deep thought and aspiration is in Him. And, 
although often unknowingly, all the sovereign thinkers do Him 
reverence. The greatest of men have in successive generations 
made that cradle the shrine of their sincerest worship. In the 
corn-fields the heaviest heads bow most, and the mightiest in- 
tellects have done the Master lowliest reverence. All the ground 
is strewn with the tokens of their homage — sublime poems, harps 
and organs, deep philosophies, eloquent orations, rich sculpture, 
delightful pictures, magnificent architecture, dedicated to His 
praise and glory. Genius brings its choicest products to His feet, 
and thinks them poor.^ 

^ Have you noticed that the three Wise Men are represented 
in art as men of different ages ? One is old, one is middle-aged, 
and one is young. And the reason why they are so represented is 
because of a tradition which came from the lips of that great 
traveller Marco Polo. He recounts that when he got to Persia he 
made every effort to find out more about the Wise Men. He was 
shown their tomb, but that did not satisfy him. He wanted to 
hear something more about them, and he could not find any one 
who could give him any information. At last in his travels he 

'W. L. Watkinson. 


came to a little town which rejoiced in the name of Gala Ataper- 
istan, or the town where they worshipped fire, and he inquired 
the reason of its name. They told him it was because it was from 
that town that three men — three Kings — had started to worship 
some great Being who was born in the West, and whose star they 
had followed. He goes on to say that of these three men one was 
old, one middle-aged, and one young, and they followed the star, 
taking with them their gifts — gold, frankincense, and myrrh; 
gold to give to the great Being if He should turn out to be a 
king ; frankincense to offer if the great Being should have some- 
thing of the Deity about Him ; myrrh if He were a physician. 
And when they came to the stable of Bethlehem they went in 
one at a time. First went in the old man, and instead of finding 
what he expected, he found an old man who talked with him. 
He left and was followed by the man of middle-age. He in his 
turn entered and was met by a Teacher of his own years who 
spoke with him. When the young man entered he in his turn 
found a young Prophet. Then the three met together outside the 
stable and marvelled — How was it that all three had gone in to 
worship this Being who was just born, and they had found not a 
child but three men of different ages ? The old man had found 
the old, the middle-aged the middle-aged, and the young the 
young. And so taking their gifts they go in all together, and 
are amazed to discover that the Prophet is then a baby of twelve 
days old ! Each separately sees in Christ the reflection of his own 
condition, the old man sees the old, the middle-aged the middle- 
aged, and the young the young : but when they go in all together 
they see Christ as He is. We shall all find in Christ the answer 
to our needs.^ 

3. The sincerity of their worship was proved by their gifts — 
" gold and frankincense and myrrh." We know what gold is, 
but the other gifts are unfamiliar in our day. Frankincense was 
an aromatic resin, used for perfume and also in the sacrifices. 
Myrrh was a highly-prized article of commerce, and, like frank- 
incense, was an odorous gum. All these gifts represented value. 
We do not know the financial ability of these men, but it is safe 
to say that their ofi'erings adequately represented their means. 
More significant than the seen was the unseen offering that they 
made. In the lowly house they bowed themselves before the 
Child and worshipped Him. Not content with bringing their 
rare gifts of valuable substances, they gave themselves. 

^ W. Gascoyne Cecil, in The Church Family New^a^er, Jan. 20, 1911, p. 48. 

ST. MATTHEW ii. i, 2 31 

Tj The old Mediaeval interpretation of the offered gold as 
signifying recognition of His kingship, the frankincense of His 
deity, and the myrrh of His death, is so beautiful that one would 
fain wish it true. But it cannot pretend to be more than a 
fancy. We are on surer ground when we see in the gifts the 
choicest products of the land of the Magi, and learn the lesson 
that the true recognition of Christ will ever be attended by the 
spontaneous surrender to Him of our best.^ 

If I suppose that the gold and frankincense and myrrh which 
the Eastern sages brought, represented the most valued treasures 
of each which they hastened to lay before the feet of the infant 
Christ. Even so, the heathen nations will all have their con- 
tribution to bring. The Indian will bring his mysticism and his 
deeply religious nature ; the Chinese his patience and endurance 
and contentment; the Japanese his sense of discipline and 
chivalry; the Buddhist his kindliness and lofty ideals; the 
Mohammedan his strong sense of the oneness of God and his 
faith and resignation. The Christian Church as it is at present 
needs all these elements.* 

^ Gold would be always a suitable present. Frankincense 
and myrrh would be used chiefly in the houses of the great, and 
in holy places. They were prized for the delicious fragrance 
which they suffused. They were gifts fit to be presented to 
monarchs ; and it was to Jesus, as a royal child, that they were 
presented by the Magi. The fathers of the Church thought that 
they could detect mysteries in the peculiar nature of the gifts. 
In the gold, says Origen, there is a reference to the Lord's royalty ; 
the frankincense has reference to His Divinity ; the myrrh to His 
decease. The number of the gifts was also a fertile source of 
cabalistic ingenuity to the older expositors. It symbolized the 
Trinity ; it symbolized the triplicity of elements in the Saviour's 
personality ; it symbolized the triad of the Christian graces, faith, 
hope, charity, etc. etc. But such a method of expounding is to 
turn the simple and sublime solemnities of Scripture into things 
ludicrous and grotesque. It is of moment to note that the visit 
of the Magi, and their reverential obeisance, and their gifts, must 
have had a finely confirming influence upon the faith of Joseph in 
reference to the perfect purity of Mary and the lofty character 
and destiny of her Ofispring.* 

" A. Maclaren. * H. N. Grimley. " Jamea Morison. 

The Two Baptisms. 



Carroll (B. H.), Sermtms, 315. 

Davles (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, v. 277. 

Harper (F.), A Year with Christ, 134. 

Ingram (A. F. W.), Into the Fighting Line, 77. 

Jowett (J. H.), Apostolic Optimism, 209. 

Maolaren (A.), Sermons Preached in Manchester, ii. 227. 

„ „ The Victor's Crowns, 207. 

Martin (A.), Winning the Soul, 81. 
Moore (E. W.), The Christ-Controlled Life, 39. 
Parker (J.), Studies in Texts, v. 183. 
Robinson (W. V.), Angel Voices, 28. 
Simpson (W. J. S.), The Prophet of the Highest, 110. 
Wilberforoe (B.), The Secret of a Quiet Mind, 114. 

Children's Pulpit : Fourth Sunday in Advent, i. 262 (A. M. Cawthorne). 
Church Pulpit Yea/r Book, 1906, p. 156. 
Expository Times, xxv. 306 (J. Reid). 
Preacher's Magaxine, lii. 326 (A. Tucker). 

The Two Baptisms. 

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance ; but he that cometh 
after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear : he 
shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. — Matt. iii. ii. 

This text is a contrast between two baptizers, John and Jesus. 
Jesus is mightier than John, in the purity of His character, by 
so much as an immaculate one is superior to a sinful one ; in the 
power which He holds, in so much as omnipotence transcends 
temporary, limited, and derived power; in the dignity of His 
character and of His office, by so much as all authority in heaven 
and on earth surpasses a brief earthly commission; and in His 
ministry, inasmuch as one was to decrease and cease and the other 
to increase and endure " alway, even unto the end of the world." 
There stood the two baptizers ; and of the one it is said that he 
was as great as any man ever born of a woman. Hence it is 
not instituting a comparison between an insignificant man on the 
one hand and a greater man on the other, but it is instituting 
a comparison between the greatest man and a Being infinitely 
greater than the greatest man. 


The baptism of John was merely preparatory and negative. 
"I indeed baptize you with water." There is something ex- 
tremely beautiful and pathetic in John the Baptist's clear dis- 
cernment of his limitations, and of the imperfection of his work. 
His immovable humility is all the more striking because it stands 
side by side with as immovable a courage in confronting evil- 
doers, whether of low or of high degree. To him to efface himself 
and be lost in the light of Christ was no trial ; it brought joy 
like that of the friend of the Bridegroom. He saw that the 
spiritual deadness and moral corruption of his generation was 



such that a crash must come. The axe was " laid at the root of 
the trees," and there was impending a mighty hewing and a fierce 
conflagration. There are periods when the only thing to be done 
with the present order is to bum it. 

But John saw, too, that there was a great deal more needed 
than he could give ; and so, with a touch of sadness, he symboHzed 
the incompleteness of his work in the words preceding the text, 
by reference to his baptism. He baptized with water, which 
cleansed the outside but did not go deeper. It was cold, negative. 
It brought no new impulses ; and he recognized that something 
far other than it was wanted, and that He who was to come, 
before whom his whole spirit prostrated itself in joyful submis- 
sion, was to bestow a holy fire which would cleanse in another 
fashion than water could do. 

^ The bounds of our habitation are fixed ; so are our talents , 
so are our spheres of influence ; so are our ranges of ministry. 
John knew exactly what he had to do, and he kept strictly 
within the Divine appointment. His was, indeed, an initial, or 
elementary, ministry, and yet God was pleased to make it a 
necessary part of His providential purpose. Men must work up 
to date, and people must be content to receive an up-to-date 
ministry, and their contentment need not be the less that they 
have an assurance that One mightier than the mightiest is coming 
with a deeper baptism. "I indeed baptize you with water," — 
that is what every true teacher says, qualifying his utterance by 
the special environment vrithin which his. ministry is exercised. 
This is what is said by the schoolmaster : " I indeed baptize you 
with letters, alphabets, grammars ; but there cometh one after me, 
mightier than I, who shall baptize you with the true intellectual 
fire." The schoolmaster can do but little for a scholar, yet that 
little may be all-important. The schoolmaster teaches the 
alphabet, but the spirit maketh alive. There is a literary instinct. 
There is a spirit which can penetrate through the letter into the 
very sanctuary of the spiritual meaning. The schoolmaster has 
an initial work ; the literary spirit develops and completes what 
he could only begin.^ 

^ John's perfect freedom from jealousy, leading to the frank 
and glad recognition of One who would supplant him through the 
greater fulness of His Divine gifts, seems to have been that which 
most impressed the EvangeKst in the character of the Baptist 

' Joseph Parker. 

ST. MATTHEW m. ii 37 

It was this self-effacement, this entire devotion to the duty which 
God laid upon him, that gave the Baptist such truth of discern- 
ment. It was the single eye which gave light to his whole body, 
the simplicity and purity of heart which enabled him to see 
things as they really were. We are not disciples of John ; but 
we should do well to honour and to imitate his noble simplicity, 
which BO entirely subordinated self to the righteousness which 
he proclaimed. If we have any good cause at heart, we must 
unfeignedly rejoice when others are able to promote it more 
efficiently than we can do; otherwise we are loving ourselves 
more than the good cause. The same is true of every gift which 
we can legitimately prize ; we must see with pleasure its higher 
manifestations in another, for otherwise we are prizing, not the 
gift, but the glory which it brings us. Though not formally a 
disciple of Jesus, John was a better Christian than most of us ; 
for he had the simplicity of Christ, an entire forgetfulness of self 
in his devotion to God and goodness.* 

Also of John a calling and a crying 

Eang in Bethabara till strength was spent, 

Cared not for counsel, stayed not for replying, 
John had one message for the world, Eepent. 

John, than which man a sadder or a greater 
Not till this day has been of woman born, 

John like some iron peak by the Creator 

Fired with the red glow of the rushing morn. 

This when the sun shall rise and overcome it 
Stands in his shining desolate and bare. 

Yet not the less the inexorable summit 
riamed him his signal to the happier air.* 


A more effectual baptism was called for — a baptism with the 
Holy Ghost and with fire. This would carry with it a deep and 
supernatural change. Fire is an element which has always 
affected the human mind with peculiar awe. It is in every way so 
strange and mysterious and, as it were, preternatural. Whether 

' James Druihmond, Johannine Tlwughts, 26. 
^ F. W. H. Myers, Saint Paid, 


glowing on the hearth, or racing in forked darts across the heavens, 
or carrying all before it in a hurricane of flame, it is always 
weird and wonderful. And accordingly, from the first, man has 
felt towards it a fear and dread with which he does not regard 
any other force whatsoever in nature. In primitive times, as he 
saw it crawl out of the dry sticks he rubbed together and writhe 
about his fingers like a live thing, or was dazzled by the splendour 
of it in the midday sky, he even found a god in it and worshipped 
it; and where his religious conceptions have ceased to be so 
crude as this, he has nevertheless taken it as the most natural of 
all emblems under which to speak of the Divine. In the Old 
Testament itself every one will remember how very often fire is 
associated both with the real and with the visionary appearances 
of God to man. It is from the burning bush that Moses is 
commissioned to undertake the deliverance of the people. It is 
a pillar of fire (and cloud) that leads them through the wilder- 
ness. Long after, when rival worships have been set up in Israel, 
and the controversy between them is to be finally decided, it is 
by the falling of fire from heaven upon the faithful prophet's 
sacrifice that the people are constrained to cry, " Jehovah, he is 
God ; Jehovah, he is God." Later still, when the prophetic spark 
kindles the heart of an exile by the river Chebar he can find no 
better words in which to describe the Awful One who has 
appeared to him, than these : " Behold, a whirlwind came out of 
the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself." And, finally, 
in the New Testament, where, however, such language has at last 
become frankly metaphorical, you have such a statement as this : 
" Our God is a consuming fire." So closely has this unaccount- 
able, uncontrollable, and everyway mysterious element associated 
itself in men's minds with the nature and' operations of the 
Deity, that they have felt instinctively that existence furnished 
them with no more apt or suggestive figure under which to think 
and speak of Him. 

When, therefore, it is said of Jesus that He " baptizes with the 
Holy Ghost and with fire," we see what is implied. It is implied 
that the influence He sheds around Him is something more than 
natural. The spiritual power He exerts, the inspiration He gives, 
the communication of inward life He makes is altogether difierent 
from the ordinary. It does not belong to the common sphere of 

ST. MATTHEW in. ii 39 

resources which are at the command, or of powers which are 
within the gift, of man. It is superhuman, supernatural. Divine. 

^ In course of a letter to Lady Welby, Bishop Westcott writes : 
" The full thought of God as Love and Fire on which you dwell 
is that which is able to bring hope and peace to us when we dare 
in faith to look at the world as it is. Again and again the mar- 
vellous succession rises : God is spirit — light — love : our God is a 
consuming fire." ^ 

^ Fire represents the Divine nature as it flames against sin to 
consume it (Heb. xii. 29). This is the fire of God's anger. But 
there is also the fire of His love. We may have the fire of sun- 
shine, or the cheery fire of the hearth, or the fire which melts away 
the dross, as well as the fire of the conflagration which burns and 
destroys. It is this beneficent ministry of fire which symbolizes 
the Spirit of God. The emblem speaks to us of the Divine love 
kindled in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, the love that purifies 
and cleanses. The very same word is used (Acts ii. 33) to describe 
the outpouring of the Spirit which is employed (Eom. v. 5) to 
express His shedding abroad of love in our hearts : evidently the 
gift of the Spirit and of love are one and the same. As St. 
Augustine says: "The Spirit is Himself the love of God: and 
when He is given to a man He kindles in him the fire of love 
to God and his neighbour." So Charles Wesley speaks of the 
" fiame of sacred love," and likens " all-victorious love " to the 
refining fire of the Holy Spirit. " The same idea is expressed by 
the common phrases of every language. We talk about the 
warmth of affection, the blaze of enthusiasm, the fire of emotion. 
Christians are to be set on fire of God " — that is, the celestial flame 
of love is to burn intensely in their hearts. The Spirit's baptism 
of flre is His baptism of love.* 


The baptism of fire searches and cleanses as water cannot do. 
There are some deeply established uneleannesses for which the 
action of water is not sufficiently stringent. In many cases of 
contagious disease, if we are to rid ourselves of every vestige of 
corruption, there are many things which must be burnt. The 
germs of the contagion cannot be washed away. They must be 
consumed away. Water would be altogether insufficient. We 

' Life and Letters of BrooTce Foss Westcott, ii. 72. 
' J. H. Hodson, SyTnibols of the Holy Spirit, 35. 


need fire. Fire is our most efifective purifying minister, a powerful 
and relentless enemy of disease. 

There can be no doubt that it was mainly this thought that 
was before the Baptist's mind when he spoke the words with whicJi 
we are dealing. The symbol of his own work was water, and there 
is a great deal, in the way of cleansing, that water can do. It can 
remove the worst of the defilement to be seen anywhere, and 
make unsightly things fairly pleasing to look at. As he preached 
and pleaded with men his words had a certain, even striking, 
effect ; the reformation that set in for the time being changed the 
face of society. But there are stains which no water can erase, 
inward impurities which it cannot reach. These must be burned 
out if they are to disappear. And this Jesus effects through His 
gift of the Holy Ghost. He breathes flame through men's hearts, 
and makes them pure. 

Tf In 1665 London was in the grip of that terrible Plague, the 
horrors of which may still be felt through the pages of Defoe. 
The disease germs were hiding and breeding and multiplying 
everywhere. Every corner became a nest of contagion. Nothing 
could be found to displace it. In the following year the Great 
Fire broke out, and the plague-smitten city was possessed by the 
spirit of burning. London was literally baptized with fire, which 
sought out the most secret haunts of the contagion, and in the 
fiery baptism the evil genius of corruption gave place to the sweet 
and friendly genius of health. Fire accomplished quite easily what 
water would never have attained. And so in a comparison of fire 
and water as cleansing and redeeming agencies, common experience 
tells us that fire is the keener, the more searching, the more power- 
ful, the more intense.^ 

^ To me it seemed that God's most vehement utterances had 
been in flames of fire. The most tremendous lesson He ever gave 
to New York was in the conflagration of 1835 ; to Chicago in the 
conflagration of 1871 ; to Boston in the conflagration of 1872 ; to 
my own congregation in the fiery downfall of the Tabernacle at 
Brooklyn. Some saw in the flames that roared through its organ 
pipes a requiem, nothing but unmitigated disaster, while others of 
us heard the voice of God, as from heaven, sounding through the 
crackling thunder of that awful day, saying, " He shall baptize you 
with the Holy Ghost and with fire "\^ 

' J. H. Jowett, Apostolic Optimism, 209. 
' 2%e Avioliography of Dr. TalTtiage, 231. 

ST. MATTHEW iii. ii 41 

1. The fire has a refining power on true character. Partly by 
the fiery trials of human life, partly by the test of sore tempta- 
tion, partly by the fire of disappointment, partly by the shattering 
of vain ideals and the scattering of earthly hopes, partly by all 
that sobers and deepens us, by the fire of bodily pain, by the fire 
of mental anguish, by every action of the Eternal Spirit of the 
living God, instructing, guiding, warning, rebuking, judging, haunt- 
ing, condemning, up to the sorrows of death and beyond it ; by all 
these each soul is tried in the baptism by fire whereby the good is 
refined and the evil destroyed. 

The great glory of the gospel is to cleanse men's hearts by 
raising their temperature, making them pure because they are 
made warm ; and that separates them from their evils. It is slow 
work to take mallet and chisel and try to chip off the rust, speck 
by speck, from a row of railings, or to punch the specks of iron 
ore out of the ironstone. Pitch the whole thing into the furnace, 
and the work will be done. So the true way for a man to be 
purged of his weaknesses, his meannesses, his passions, his lusts, 
his sins, is to submit himself to the cleansing fire of that Divine 

Tf Did you ever see a blast-furnace ? How long would it take 
a man, think you, with hammer and chisel, or by chemical means, 
to get the bits of ore out from the stony matrix ? But fling them 
into the great cylinder, and pile the fire and let the strong draught 
roar through the burning mass, and by evening you can run off 
a glowing stream of pure and fluid metal, from which all the dross 
and rubbish is parted, which has been charmed out of all its sullen 
hardness, and will take the shape of any mould into which you 
like to run it. The fire has conquered, has melted, has purified. 
So with us. Love " shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost 
given unto us," love that answers to Christ's, love that is fixed 
upon Him who is pure and separate from sinners, will purify us 
and sever us from our sins. Nothing else will. All other cleans- 
ing is superficial, like the water of John's baptism.^ 

Tl Beautiful colours, rich gold-work, exquisite designs, and 
artistic skill may be seen on the unfinished porcelain vase, but a 
careless touch may spoil them, there is a needs-be that the vase 
should be placed in the fire, that the artist's skill may be burnt 
in, and then the colours become permanent. The Holy Spirit is 
the Artist and the Fire. He alone can produce the beautiful 

' A. Maclaren. 


colours of a holy life and make the character impervious to the 
attacks of evil. He alone can make us resolve with Jonathan 
Edwards, who wrote in his diary these words : " If I believed that 
it were permitted to one man — and only one — ^in this genera- 
tion to lead a life of complete consecration to God, I would 
live in every respect as though I believed myself to be that 

2. The fire will destroy everything that is not sterling metal. 
This is the alternative before every human being — either to be 
purified by the baptism of fire, or else to meet that central 
Holiness as a flame of judgment. Of course it must be so. For 
the holiness of God cannot change its character. It is man's heart 
that must be changed. To the obedient it is a savour of life unto 
life, to the evil a savour of death unto death ; to the one remedial, 
to the other retributive. The Spirit of God must sanctify, or 
else it must destroy. 

The gold is gold, and cannot be anything worse if it would. 
The chaff is worthless by nature, not by fault. The fire must of 
necessity purify the one and burn the other. Neither gold nor 
stubble can change. But that which is tested by the fire of the 
Divine Holiness is the will and the character of moral and respon- 
sible beings. Man can become pure as the gold or worthless as 
the stubble. From the same material issues the sinner and the 
saint. It must depend upon the soul itself whether the Divine 
Holiness shall be to it the fire which purifies or the fire which 
destroys. God cannot deny Himself, or be anything else than 
moral Perfection, or He would no longer be God. It is the 
creature that must change. The human will must change. The 
human will must so submit itself to the action of the grace of God 
that the evil shall be burnt out and the good refined. Our destiny 
is in our hands. The love and mercy which created us has no 
pleasure in our ruin. And if any soul hereafter meet that holiness 
of God in the form of unquenchable fire, it will be because that 
soul has refused to meet Him as the power which cleanses. 

^ The same pillar of fire which gladdened the ranks of Israel 
as they camped by the Eed Sea shone baleful and terrible to the 
Egyptian hosts. The same Ark of the Covenant whose presence 
blessed the house of Obed-edom, and hallowed Zion, and saved 

1 F. E. Marsh, Emblems of the Holy Spirit, 122. 

ST. MATTHEW in. ii 43 

Jerusalem, smote the Philistines, and struck down their bestial 
gods. Christ and His gospel even here hurt the men whom they 
do not save.^ 


The baptism of fire imparts to the life an unmistakable glow 
and ardour and enthusiasm. This certainly is one very prominent 
trait in the life of Jesus Himself. The spirit of holiness in Him 
included a great zeal in the service of the Father. Once at least 
it blazed up even fiercely — when the desecration of the Temple 
had stung Him to the quick, and in wrath He overthrew the 
money-changers' tables and drove the offenders before Him. But 
it was not only in an instance so dramatic as this that " the zeal of 
his Father's house" was apparent in Him. It was the habit 
of His life and it appears all through. The holy enthusiasm — if 
we may use the word reverently of Him — ^in which He had given 
Himself at the first to the work that brought Him here never 
flagged during all the years He was engaged in it. Occasionally 
we see it manifesting itself in short-lived gleams of thankfulness 
at what has been accomplished for the Kingdom or of anticipation 
of its future triumph. Oftener it takes the form rather of a quiet, 
invincible, sustaining power that enables Him to hold on His way. 
It comforts His heart under the disappointments He meets with, 
strengthens Him under His heavy burden, and carries Him 
through all opposition ; so that, because of His zeal for the truth 
and the kingdom and the glory of God, He did not fail nor was 
discouraged till He had set judgment in the earth. 

What is greatly to be desired is that, in the lives of those who 
follow Jesus, there should be a large measure of the enthusiasm 
that glowed in His own — a serious, intelligent, glowing sympathy 
with God, a supreme thankfulness because of the purposes of 
grace He entertains towards our race, and a great readiness to 
spend and be spent in the carrying on of these so far as oppor- 
tunity offers to every man. That is Christian enthusiasm — Christ's 
own enthusiasm, which He shares with all in whom His influence 
has free play. As for the forms it will take, they will be endless ; 
for men are endlessly different, nor is there any need why any 

' A. Maclaren. 


man should violate his own nature in order to serve God faithfully. 
In the world there are all sorts of men and women, possessed of 
all sorts of temperaments and dispositions, and in the work of 
building up God's Kingdom on earth there is a place and a work 
for every one of them. What is imperative is that at the bottom 
of all our hearts there should be this deep, unchanging, burning 
desire to help that great work on for Jesus' sake. 

IJ Suppose we saw an army sitting down before a granite fort, 
and they told us that they intended to batter it down : we might 
ask them, "How?" They point to a cannon-ball. Well, but 
there is no power in that ; it is heavy, but if all the men in the 
army hurled it against the fort, they would make no impression. 
They say, "No; but look at the cannon." Well, there is no 
power in that. A child may ride upon it, a bird may perch in its 
mouth; it is a machine, and nothing more. "But look at the 
powder." Well, there is no power in that ; a child may spill it, 
a sparrow may peck it. Yet this powerless powder and powerless 
ball are put into a powerless cannon ; one spark of fire enters it 
— and then, in the twinkling of an eye, that powder is a flash of 
lightning, and that ball a thunderbolt, which smites as if it had 
been sent from heaven. So is it with our Church machinery at 
this day : we have all the instruments necessary for pulling down 
strongholds, and oh for the baptism of fire ! ^ 

1. Passionate religious enthusiasm attaches itself to a person ; 
and the more near and real our intercourse with the person, the 
more beautiful will be our holiness, and the more fiery-hearted 
will be our service and devotion. Just think for a moment what 
magnificent import this revelation in the Person of Jesus had for 
•those Jews who became His disciples. The religion of the Jews 
had become an obedience to precept and law. The germ of their 
national faith is to be found in those ten laws which we call the 
Ten Commandments. But to these ten laws the Eabbis had 
made countless additional laws— petty, trying, and irritating laws, 
which had come to be regarded as of equal importance with the 
original ten. To the earnest Jew, the warm, loving purpose of God 
had become buried in a mountainous mass of man-made traditions. 
It was no longer God with whom the Jew was dealing, but this 
vast dead-weight of Eabbinical law. God had become to them 
an earth-born system, a burdensome " ism," a heavy and smothering 
' William Arthur, The Tongue of Fire, 809. 

ST. MATTHEW iii. ii 45 

tradition. Then came the Christ, and the first thing He did was 
to tear these miles of wrappages away. 

Christ gives fervour by bringing the warmth of His own love 
to bear upon our hearts through the Spirit, and that kindles ours. 
Where His great work for men is believed and trusted in, there, 
and there only, is excited an intensity of consequent affection to 
Him which glows throughout the life. It is not enough to say 
that Christianity is singular among religious and moral systems in 
exalting fervour into a virtue. Its peculiarity lies deeper — in its 
method of producing that fervour. It is kindled by that Spirit 
using as His means the truth of the dying love of Christ. The 
secret of the gospel is not solved by saying that Christ excites love 
in our souls. The question yet remains — How ? There is but one 
answer to that : He loved us to the death. That truth laid on 
hearts by the Spirit, who takes of Christ's and shows them to us, 
and that truth alone, makes fire burst from their coldness. 

^ In the times of the Crusaders a band of valiant knights 
traversed the sunny plains of France, to sail from Marseilles for 
the Holy Land. There, along with others who were bound on the 
same enterprise, they embarked on the stately vessel that was to 
carry them across the sea. But, eager as they were to do, day 
after day they lay helplessly becalmed. The hot sun beat upon 
them, and was flashed back from the unbroken surface of the 
waves. They lounged wearily upon the deck ; they scanned the 
heavens in vain for the signs of an approaching breeze. It seemed 
as though some adverse fate resolved to hold them back. 
But in the stillness of an even tide, from a group of warriors 
assembled at the prow, there rose the swelling strains of the Veni 
Creator Spmttis — " Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire." And 
straightway a breath came upon them from the dying sun ; the 
smooth, shining surface of the sea was ruffled, the cordage rattled, 
the sails were filled, and the vessel sped joyously over the dancing 
waves. Whether the story is true or not, it contains a very grand 
truth. Without the Spirit of Love all is dark and dead. 

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire 
And lighten with celestial fire. 

2. This enthusiasm needs nurture. There is a danger that the 
wide divergences of our interests in modern life diminish and 
impoverish the intensity of our devotion. How did our fathers 
keep the fire burning? There are some words found very 


frequently in their letters, and diaries, and sermons, which 
awaken similar feelings to those aroused by types of extinct 
species that are sometimes unearthed from the deposits of a far- 
off and unfamiliar age. Here are two such words, " meditation " 
and "contemplation" — words which appear to suggest an unfamiliar 
day, when the world was young, and haste was not yet born, and 
men moved among their affairs with long and leisurely strides. 
Our fathers steeped their souls in meditation. They appointed 
long seasons for the contemplation of God in Christ. And as they 
mused the fire burned. Passion was born of thought. What 
passion ? The passion which Faber so beautifully describes as the 
desire which purifies man and glorifies God : — 

But none honours God like the thirst of desire, 
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him; 
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire, 
And fills life with good works till it runs o'er the brim. 

^ Let us muse upon the King in His beauty, let us commune 
with His loveliness, let us dwell more in the secret place, and the 
unspeakable glory of His countenance shall create within us that 
enthusiastic passion which shall be to us our baptism of fire, a fire 
in which everything unchristian shall be utterly consumed away. 
Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire. 
Covet more the dear sight of His Marvellous Face; 
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire 
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace.^ 
' J. H. Jowett, Apostolic Optimism, 224, 

A Question of Life. 



Alford (H.), Sermons, i. 152. 

Aroliibald (M. G.), Sundays at the Royal Military College, 73, 

Brooks (P.), The Spiritual Man, 47. 

Burgon (J. W.), in The Expositor's Library, i. 202. 

Chapin (E. H.), God's Requirements, 173. 

Conn (J.), The Fulness of Time, 117. 

Eyton (E.), The Temptation of Jesus, 12. 

Ford (H.), Sermons with Analyses, 93. 

Gibbons (J. C), Discourses and Sermons, 143. 

Hitcbcock (B.. D.), Eternal Atonement, 169. 

Jowett (J. H.), Things that Matter Most, 183. 

Knight (G. H.), Full Allegiance, 83. 

Lewis (F. W.), The Master of Life, 3. 

M'Connell (S. D.), Sons of God, 203. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew i.-viii., 76. 

Macmillan (H.), Sun-Glints in the Wilderness, 22. 

Massillon (J. B.), Sermons, 242. 

Momerie (A. W.), The Origin of Evil, 135. 

Morgan (Q. C), The Ten Commandments, 6. 

MnrseU (W. A.), Sermons on Special Decagons, 233. 

Hummer (A.), Exegetical Convmentary on the Gospel according to St. 

Matthew, 35. 
Vaughan (C. J.), The Two Great Temptations, 113. 
Vincent (M. E.), God cmd Bread, 3. 
Welldon (J. E. C), The Spiritual Life, 140. 
Contempoi-ary Pulpit, 2nd Ser., iii. 96 (H. Wace). 


A Question of Life. 

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread 
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. — 
Matt. iv. 4. 

1. The Temptation Story. — Our Lord's temptation, next to His 
death and passion, is the greatest event recorded of Him in the 
Gospels. The reason of this is evident. It was the Messiah's 
first encounter with His great enemy, Satan. Viewed aright, the 
scene so simply and briefly described in Scripture is the most 
terrific that can be imagined, as well as the most sublime ; for we 
cannot forget that it is none other than a contest, on the issue of 
which depended the salvation of all mankind. On the one side 
was the Eternal Son, made flesh ; sinless indeed, yet compassed 
with all the infirmity of man's fallen nature : on the other, the chief 
of the fallen angels, Satan ; that old serpent who, in the beginning 
by deceiving our first parents, had brought death and sin and 
sorrow into the world. Satan knows his rival, and yet he knows 
Him but partially. He strides out to meet Him in desperate duel, 
as Goliath did the stripling whom he despised ; and both hosts 
pause and gaze. 

(1) In all probability the temptation of our Lord followed 
immediately upon the baptism, for St. Mark uses the word 
"straightway," and St. Luke states that Jesus returned from 
Jordan full of the Spirit and was led by Him into the wilderness. 
It was, moreover, the natural counterpart of the baptism, which 
had ended with the declaration of the Divine Sonship of Jesus. 
From this the tempter takes his first occasion of evil suggestion, 
while Jesus takes the next step in the fulfilment of all righteous- 
ness by meeting the attacks of evil on the same footing as all 
men since the first temptation. That was the ordering of His 
Father in Heaven, to fit Him more perfectly for His work, by giving 
Him an experimental acquaintance with the force of our tempta- 

ST. MATT. — 4 


tions day by day. But probably His own reason for going away 
from the crowds into a desert place was to have more undisturbed 
communion with His Father and to meditate upon the great work 
given Him to do. Yet into these holy hours the tempter came ; 
and what He expected would be a time of calm and hallowed inter- 
coiirse with Heaven was turned into a time of dire conflict witih 
all the subtlety of hell. 

(2) Our Lord was " in the wilderness alone " — in St. Mark's 
graphic description, "with the wild beasts." There were none 
but heavenly witnesses of the mysterious experiences of those 
forty days; no human eyes witnessed them; and their record, 
therefore, is due to no human observation. The ultimate source 
of information must have been our Lord Himself, as the most 
rigorous criticism admits. His disciples would not have been 
likely to think that He could be tempted to evil ; and, if they 
had supposed that He could, they would have imagined quite 
different temptations for Him, as various legends of the 
saints show. The form, therefore, in which the temptations 
are described is probably our Lord's, chosen by Him as the 
best means of conveying the essential facts to the minds of His 

(3) It does not follow, because the temptations are described 
separately, that they took place separately, one ceasing before the 
next began. Temptations may be simultaneous or interlaced; 
and, in describing these three, Matthew and Luke are not agreed 
about the order. Nor does it follow, because the sphere of the 
temptation changes, that the locality in which Christ was at the 
moment was changed. We need not suppose that the devil had 
control over our Lord's Person and took Him through the air 
from place to place: he directs His thoughts to this or that. 
The change of scene is mental. From no high mountain could 
more than a small fraction of the world be seen ; but the glory of 
all the kingdoms of the world could be suggested to the mind. 
Nor again do the words, " The tempter came and said unto him," 
imply that anything was seen by the eye or heard by the ear ; 
any one might describe his own temptations in a similar way. 
What these words do imply is that the temptations came to Christ 
from the outside; they were not the result, as many of our 
temptations are, of previous sin. 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 51 

2. The First Temptation, — The temptation was real. The 
mystery of His humanity — a humanity real in soul as in body 
— made Him capable of temptation ; made temptation a conflict and 
a suffering ; made victory a thing to be fought for — the victory 
not of an insensible, impassive Divinity, but of a manhood 
indwelt by the Spirit. 

(1) For forty days and nights He had been alone in the 
wilderness. St. Mark and St. Luke inform us that during the 
whole of that time He was tempted of the devil ; and the former 
perhaps indicates one method of temptation which may have been 
tried, in adding " and he was with the wild beasts." It may have 
been attempted by terror to shake the Eedeemer's firmness of 
purpose. But of this Scripture leaves us in uncertainty ; and it 
is not till the end of the forty days that we are permitted 
to witness the forms which His temptation assumed. At that 
time we find Him exhausted with His long abstinence from 

He was hungry, grievously hungry. He was experiencing to 
the full extent that strong craving of our nature which some- 
times turns men into brutes. His tongue was parched and 
blackened with the terrible heat of the wilderness. He was worn 
out with hunger. Every circumstance conspired to render the 
allurement of food as strong as possible. The pitiless blue, like 
brass above ; the barren wilderness around Him, where roam the 
prowling beasts. Son of God? Did He look like the Son of 
God, without accompaniment of angel or of glory ? Was it not 
a fancy and a dream ? 

(2) The wilderness in which He kept His lonely vigil for 
forty days, the hunger and exhaustion which He felt after His 
long fast and travail of soul, were all symbols and evidences of the 
curse of man. Satan came to Him while He was suffering from 
these effects of Adam's sin, and suggested to Him an easy method 
by which they might be removed. By a miracle, the curse would 
be neutralized and His wants supplied. The food which the 
wilderness like a miser refused could be wrung by force from its 
grasp. Faithful to the just and wise law of barrenness imposed 
upon it by God, it could be made conveniently disobedient by the 
arbitrary exercise of Divine power. " If thou be the Son of God, 
command that these stones be made bread." Use Thy Divine 


power to procure comfort; choose a life of ease and abundance, 
instead of the bare hard stones of the wilderness. 

(3) Jesus overcomes the solicitation of evil as a pious man 
and as a believing Israelite. His mind is saturated with the 
Bible, and a word of it which meets the case leaps instinctively to 
His tongue. The passage which Jesus quotes is from the Book 
of Deuteronomy, in which the spiritual lessons of the leadings of 
Israel as God's Son in the wilderness are drawn out. In Deut. 
viii. 1-3 the hunger suffered during forty years in the wilderness, 
and its reUef by the gift of manna, was to teach the people that 
man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro- 
ceedeth out of the mouth of God. 

The bearing of the words on Christ's hunger is twofold : first. 
He wni not use His miraculous powers to provide food, for that 
would be to distrust God, and so to cast off His filial dependence ; 
second. He will not separate Himself from His brethren and pro- 
vide for Himself by a way not open to them, for that would really 
be to reverse the very purpose of His incarnation and to defeat 
His whole work. 

LuK BY Bread, 

How shall we live ? Multitudes of people are asking that 
question to-day with peculiar earnestness. The man who could 
give a satisfactory practical answer would be regarded as the 
greatest of all pubhc benefactors. Sometimes a kindly providence 
apparently shapes all for a man at the moment of his birth. Not 
till some sudden calamity overwhelms him is he roused into a 
conscious necessity of deciding for himself what he will do and 
become. But to most men there comes early in life the occasion 
and the necessity for deliberation and decision. Towards what 
goal in the future, he then asks, shall I now direct my steps, and 
by what route and methods shall it be reached ? To these questions 
he is forced to give some kind of answers. 

1. What is covered ly the word " Bread " ? — Bread we call the 
staff of life. This familiar imagery is as ancient at least as the 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 53 

time of Abraham. To the three angels, one of them the mysterious 
angel of the covenant, who appeared to him as he sat at the door 
of his tent in the plains of Mamre, the hospitable patriarch said, 
" I will fetch a morsel of bread, and stay ye your hearts." Moses, 
when he threatened the people with famine in punishment of their 
sins, described it as the breaking of their staff. Isaiah also warns 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah that the Lord of hosts 
will take away " the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and 
the whole stay of water." Bread was what the famished Bedouin 
craved when he caught up so eagerly the bag he found lying by 
a fountain in the desert, and flung it down again so quickly in 
despair, exclaiming, " Alas ! it is only diamonds." 

But " bread," as we have it in the text, means more than this. 
It covers the whole visible economy of life — all that range of 
supplies, helps, and supports upon which men depend to keep 
themselves alive, and to make life comfortable and enjoyable. It 
covers the whole economy of food and drink, clothing, shelter, 
ministry to the senses, to power, respectability, and worldly honour. 
The world's commonly accepted theory is, By these things we live. 
We cannot gel on vnthout them. 

^ If it be urged that these views of Mr. Hinton [on sacrifice] 
are very uncomfortable views of life, I might suggest that 
Christianity itself, with its fundamental axiom, " He that loveth 
his life shall lose it," cannot strictly be defined as a comfortable 
• religion. I would ask whether our modern worship of " the com- 
fortable " has given us a life that really satisfies even the most 
worldly amongst us ; whether, on the contrary, it has not bound 
down the free play and joyous movement of life under a " weight 
of custom, heavy as frost, deep almost as life," debarring us from 
the healthy joys of "plain living and high thinking," from the 
lofty enterprise and joyous heroism that " feeds the high tradition 
of the world," and from the deeper blessedness of sacrifice, 

That makes us large with utter loss 
To hold divinity?! 

2. TJie peril of " Bread." — Possessed as we are of a physical 

nature, with its clamorous appetites and its innumerable bodily 

needs, we are tempted at times to believe that man is merely a 

superior kind of animal, living by bread alone, and with no interest 

1 Ellice Hopkins, J^fe and Zettera o/Jenmes ffinten, 293, 


in anything save what he can see and touch and taste. On this 
view, man becomes and remains a mere instrument, in one way 
or another living only for bread, living only for an end out of 
himself, living merely in subservience to that class of things which 
bread represents. There is the great evil in this world, and there 
spring up temptations similar in character to those which assailed 
Christ in the wilderness. 

(1) There is danger for the individual. In that first concep- 
tion of himself as a responsible and solitary being, every young 
man meets the same devil as Jesus met.^ And the temptation 
is the same — the assurance given in some form or other that 
bread is all that a man needs, that everything else is a delusion, 
that to live a life of physical comfort is the only solid wish for a 
man's soul. Perhaps it is a business which he knows is wrong, 
but sees must be profitable. Perhaps it is the abandonment of 
those he ought to care for, so that he may himself get rich. 
Perhaps it is the hiding of his sincere convictions in order to keep 
his place in some social company. Perhaps it is connivance at 
a wicked man's sin in order to preserve his favour. Perhaps it is 
the postponing of charity to some future day when it shall be 
easier. Perhaps it is a refusal to acknowledge Christ, the Master, 
out of fear, or because some easy, foolish friendship would be 
sacrificed. Perhaps it is simply the giving up of ambitions, in- 
tellectual or spiritual, for the sake of quiet, unperturbed respecta- 
bility. These are real struggles. 

Now, manifestly, it must lead to the most disastrous results 
when the lower elements of a man's nature are treated as if they 
were the only, or at any rate the most important, elements. The 
soul of the sensualist is like a State in which the ignorant, vulgar 
and stupid mob has usurped the reins of government, and is pro- 
ceeding to destroy everything better than itself. Enjoyment, 
which is the proper satisfaction for the sensuous part of our being, 
is no satisfaction at all for the mind and heart and spirit. The 
unsatisfactoriness of a life devoted to pleasure may be proved, not 
only by abstract considerations, but by the fact that those who 
have lived in this fashion invariably speak of their existence with 
disappointment and disgust. 

If I have seen the silly rounds of business and pleasure and 
have done with them all, I have enjoyed all the pleasures of 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 55 

the world and consequently know their futility, and do not regret 
their loss. Their real value is very, very low ; but those who have 
not experienced them always overrate them. Por myself, I by no 
means desire to repeat the nauseous dose.^ 

^ In one of his Hebrew Melodies Byron speaks in a similar 
strain — 

Fame, wisdom, love, and power were mine, 

And health and youth possess'd me; 
My goblets blush'd from every vine, 

And lovely forms caress'd me; 
I sunn'd my heart in beauty's eyes, 

And felt my soul grow tender; 
All earth can give, or mortal prize, 

Was mine of regal splendour. 

I strive to number o'er what days 

Eemembrance can discover, 
Which all that life or earth displays 

Would lure me to live over. 
There rose no day, there roU'd no hour 

Of pleasure unembitter'd ; 
And not a trapping deck'd my power 

That gall'd not while it glitter'd. 

The serpent of the field, by art 

And spells, is won from harming; 
But that which coils around the heart, 

Oh ! who hath power of charming ? 
It will not list to wisdom's lore, 

Nor music's voice can lure it; 
But there it stings for evermore 

The soul that must endure it. 

(2) There is a national menace. In these modern days one finds 
oneself rummaging the pages of Gibbon and Tacitus and Juvenal. 
Look at those old empires which lived by bread alone ; by riches 
so enormous that it seems as if God had determined to give money 
a chance to do its best ; living by power so vast that there were 
no more worlds to conquer ; living by pleasure so prodigal and so 
refined and varied that the liveliest invention was exhausted, and 
the keenest appetite surfeited. Babylon, Eome, Antioch, Alex- 
* Lord Chesterfield. 


andria, Carthage, — to-day we dare not open to our children the 
records of the inner life of these communities. We almost 
hesitate to read its fearful summary in the first chapter of St. 
Paul's Epistle to the Komans. The old empires have gone down 
in ruin, and their pleasures have turned to a corruption which is an 
offence in the world's nostrils. The old city which rang with the 
cry of " Bread and the Circus ! " is only a monument now. The 
tourist wanders over the Palatine, and peers down into the choked 
vaults of the Caesars' palaces; and the antiquarian rummages 
where Nero's fish-ponds gleamed, and climbs along the broken 
tiers of the Coliseum, from which the culture and beauty and 
fashion of Eome looked down with delight upon Christian martyrs 
in the fangs of tigers. 

Not in material progress then, nor in art and science, nor in 
the stoicism of absolute duty, is the law of human nature found to 
lie. We fall back upon the immemorial truth — " Man shall not 
live by bread alone." 

^ The most helpful and sacred work, which can at present be 
done for humanity, is to teach people (chiefly by example, as all 
best teaching must be done) not how " to better themselves," but 
how to " satisfy themselves." It is the curse of every evil nation 
and evil creature to eat, and not be satisfied. The words of 
blessing are, that they shall eat and be satisfied. And as there is 
only one kind of water which quenches all thirst, so there is only 
one kind of bread which satisfies all hunger — the bread of justice, 
or righteousness; which hungering after, men shall always be 
filled, that being the bread of heaven ; but hungering after the 
bread, or wages, of unrighteousness, shall not be filled, that being 
the bread of Sodom.^ 

3. Christ's attitude to " Bread." — But the subject has another 
side. There are people who try to get rid altogether of the lower 
elements. They attempt to eradicate desire, to extinguish 
instinct, to suppress and annihilate the bodily nature. Principal 
Caird says, " If the spiritual self is essentially greater than the 
lower tendencies, why should it not exist without them? If 
desire and passion drag me down from my ideal life, why should 
I not escape from their thraldom, and live as if I were a disem- 
bodied spirit ? Snap the ties that bind me to the satisfactions of 
' Euskin, Modem Painters, v. ( PTorJcs, vii. 426). 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 57 

the moment, that absorb me in the transient and perishable, and 
will not my spirit gain at a bound its proper sphere ? But," he 
answers, " the ties cannot be snapped, and even if they could, the 
end proposed would not be gained. The violent self-suppression at 
which the ascetic aims can never be effected ; and if it could, it 
would be, not the fulfilment, but the extinction, of a moral life. 
In our self-development the lower natural tendencies have an 
indispensable part to play. Apart from them, the realization of 
our ideal nature would be utterly impossible." In the life of our 
Lord we find no encouragement for this ascetic theory. " The Son 
of man came eating and drinking." Very precious to Christian 
hearts are those brief, those thrilling records which make Him 
like unto us, one with us, in all things : Jesus wept. Jesus was 
wearied with His journey. Jesus said, I thirst. Jesus was in the 
hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow. He afterward 
hungered. The Maker of our bodies never speaks scornfully 
of their normal, innocent necessities. Human life, in the lowest 
sphere of its merely animal functions and wants, is invested with 
a sort of sacredness as the workmanship and husbandry of God. 

Tj How utterly opposed to the thought of Jesus Christ is all 
asceticism, all religious isolation and retreat from the world. 
Society, not solitude, is the natural home of Christianity. 
The Christian is not to flee from the contagion of evil, but to 
meet it with the contact of health and holiness. The Church is 
not to be built on glass posts for moral insulation, but among the 
homes of common men for moral transformation. What use 
is a light under a bushel ? It must shine where there is darkness. 
The place of need is the field of duty, and though we are not to be 
of the world, we are to be first and last in the world and for the 

U In a letter to the Eev. W. P. Wood, who was thinking 
of introducing some criticism of Benthamism into his Oxford 
Sermons, Dean Hook wrote : " If you have had time to look into 
Bentham's work you will find that he assumes that there are only 
three principles of action, (1) asceticism, (2) sympathy, (3) utility. 
There is a misplaced attempt at facetiousness involving a gross 
misstatement of the first of these principles at the outset of the 
book; for it is a bad introduction to a work professing strict 
philosophy to lay down that the principle of asceticism consists in 
supposing the 'misery of His creatures to be gratifying to the 
* M. D. Babcock, Thoughta for Every-Day Living, 42. 


Creator.' The principle, though carried to an excess, was in 
itself good and true, namely, the subduing of sensual appetites as 
a means of freeing the mind from their bias. Like every other 
device of man, this principle failed with the monks as it had 
failed with the Stoics, and I think that on inquiry it would be 
found the radical vice of the system was its leading men to dwell 
too exclusively on self, by which in the first place pride, and in 
the next indifference to the happiness of others, became gradually 
engendered in the ascetic." ^ 


Life by the Wokd of God. 

When Christ says that men shall live by God's word, He means 
by " life " far more than the little span of years, with their eating 
and drinking and pleasure and gain-getting. This utterance of 
the world's Eedeemer assumes the fact of immortality. If not, 
the theory of life by God is condemned ; and there is nothing for us 
but the bread-theory : " Let us eat and drink ; for to-morrow we 
die." To live by the word of God is to share the eternal life of 
God. The bread-life is but the prelude and faint type of this. 

1. The first point to be attained by man is to rise to the true 
conception of life. When he does this he has a different standard 
of value from that of the mere bread standard. The standard of 
value yyith him is whatever elevates and perfects his personality ; 
not what he gets, not what he accumulates, not what feeds only 
one part of his nature, but what makes him great and good, 
strong and beautiful, and assimilates him to God and Christ. He 
values everything that comes from the mouth of God, and lives 
by it — that is, all things that God gives, not merely to the body, 
but to the soul. 

Every word of God contains a revelation and a command- 
ment. Whenever God speaks by any of His voices, it is first to 
tell us some truth which we did not know before, and second to 
bid us do something which we have not been doing. Every word 
of God includes these two. Truth and duty are always wedded. 
There is no truth which has not its corresponding duty. And 
there is no duty which has not its corresponding truth. We are 
' W. E. W. Stephens, The Life and Letters of WaZUr Farquhar Hook, 1. 246. 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 59 

always separating them. We are always trying to learn truths, 
as if there were no duties belonging to them, as if the knowing of 
them would make no difference in the way we lived. That is the 
reason why our hold on the truths we learn is so weak. And we 
are always trying to do duties as if there were no truths behind 
them ; that is, as if they were mere arbitrary things which rested 
on no principles and had no intelligible reasons. That is why we 
do our duties so superficially and unreliably. When every truth 
is rounded into its duty, and every duty is deepened into its truth, 
then we shall have a clearness and consistency and permanence 
of moral life which we hardly dream of now. 

^ The rule and measure of duty is not utility, nor experience, 
nor the happiness of the greatest number, nor State convenience, 
nor fitness, order, and the pulchrum. Conscience is not a long- 
sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself ; but 
it is a messenger from Him who, both in nature and in grace, 
speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His repre- 
sentatives. Conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ, a prophet 
in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in 
its blessings and anathemas ; and even though the eternal priest- 
hood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal 
principle would remain, and would have a sway.^ 

2. Man cannot be satisfied with bread, with anything material 
— ^he cannot live upon it ; there are portions of his nature which 
it will not nourish, cravings which it will not satisfy. "Man 
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth 
out of the mouth of God." If man is to live, he must satisfy the 
deeper cravings first. This is shown both in consciousness and 
in experience. 

(1) The appeal to consciousness. — Man discovers within himself 
certain powers — powers of work, powers of study, powers of 
sacrifice, powers of suffering for others; what is. to become of 
these powers if he lives by bread alone, if he makes material 
comfort his one and only object ? Undoubtedly they will dwindle 
and decay. We know that we have a reason and a conscience 
which ought to be our guide ; and we are all conscious, at least 
at times, of feelings, wishes, aspirations which material things 
can never satisfy. We all feel that we are capable of and meant 
' Cardinal Newman. 


for a higher and nobler life than that of an animal : even for a 
life guided by reason and conscience, a life of faith, love, righteous- 
ness, holiness, a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice for our own 
good and for the good of our brethren ; and we all somehow or 
other have a belief that no life can be at its best or worthiest 
which is not after this pattern. 

(2) The appeal to experience. — Again by a survey of human 
history we find that other men, in other days, have lived not 
for the flesh, but for the Spirit. The testimony of devout men 
at many times and in many regions of the earth to the capacity 
of the human spirit for communion with the Divine Spirit, which 
is the very breath of the Godhead, is as sure and strong as any 
testimony to any essential fact of human nature. Their history 
confirms man in his study of himself. He reads his duty in their 
stories. " It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone." 

Tl A second man I honour, and still more highly [than the 
toilworn Craftsman] : Him who is seen toiling for the spirituality 
indispensable ; not daily bread, but the bread of Life. Is not he 
too in his duty ; endeavouring towards inward Harmony ; reveal- 
ing this, by act or by word, through all his outward endeavours, 
be they high or low ? Highest of all, when his outward and his 
inward endeavour are one : when we can name him Artist : not 
earthly Craftsman only, but inspired Thinker, who with heaven- 
made Implement conquers Heaven for us I If the poor and 
humble toil that we have Food, must not the high and glorious 
toil for him in return, that he have Light, have Guidance, 
Freedom, Immortality ? — these two, in all their degrees, I honour ; 
all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it 
listeth. Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both 
dignities united ; and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest 
of man's wants is also toiling inwardly for the highest. Sublimer 
in this world know I nothing than a Peasant Saint, could such 
now anywhere be met with. Such a one will take thee back to 
Nazareth itself; thou wilt see the splendour of Heaven spring 
forth from the humblest depths of Earth, like a light shining in 
great darkness.^ 

3. To live this higher life is to be obedient to the word of 
God. Jesus, the author of Christian faith, lived from beginning 
to end, without deviation or exception, by the words proceeding 

' Carlyle, Swrtor Sesartus, Bk. iii. chap. iv. 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 61 

from the mouth of God. In His passion-baptism He bore the 
penalty of the disobedience of the race, and in His resurrection 
He took again His life, that He might communicate it to sinful 
men, that in its energy they also might obey the law of God. He 
conquered at the last, as He conquered at the first, by obeying 
every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God ; overcame 
by His human faith and obedience, and not by His Divine power ; 
made Himself known in His highest glory to men, not by ex- 
empting Himself from the lot of humanity, but through a 
fellowship with their miseries. 

(1) Obedience is the secret of manhood. — The supreme duty of 
every man is that he should discover and obey these words. If 
he live from day to day, from week to week, from month to 
month, and from year to year without reference to that law, 
hoping that, after being regardless of, if not rebellious against, it, 
he will at last slip into some happy state, then surely he must 
indeed be blind and foolish. Self-control and a willing humilia- 
tion of self to the Will that rules the universe is man's first and 
hardest lesson. This teaches him at the outset how helpless and 
hopeless he is in himself. Such knowledge drives a man out of 
himself hungry and thirsty for every word that proceedeth out of 
the mouth of God. When once he has learned to lay hold of the 
Power which alone can help him, then begins the process which 
ends in the mastery of self and in the consummation of a life 
which alone is worth living. 

' ^ How is the soul free ? Not, as has been excellently put, 
" when it is at the mercy of every random impulse, but when it 
is acted upon by congenial forces, when it is exposed to spiritual 
pressure, to constraint within itself." Let us take a concrete 
instance. Take a high-souled man who is injured or insulted by 
his fellow. How will he act ? What will be here the next thing ? 
The natural reaction, the instinctive movement, will be one of 
revolt, of paying back in like coin. That lies nearest to the 
animal in him, and he feels it all. But will it determine his 
action? WiU that actually come next? There is a beautiful 
story which D'Aguesseau, a French Advocate-General of the 
seventeenth century, tells of his father: "Naturally of a quick 
temper," his son says of him, " when under provocation one saw 
him redden and become silent at the same moment ; the nobler 
part of his soul allowing the first fire to pass without word said, 


in order to re-establish straightway that inner calm and tranquil- 
lity which reason and religion had combined to make the habit of 
his soul." There you have the thing taken from the life; the 
trained soul caught in the entire fineness of its action. The 
whole philosophy of the spirit is there ; the higher nature con- 
structing its next thing, not from the grosser impulses, but from 
the free obedience it pays to the highest that is in it.^ 

(2) Ohedience is the proof of sonship.—lt was by His obedience 
to the word of God that Christ proved His Sonship. As there is 
no doubt, neither is there any wavering in His decision. The 
life of man is the life of obedience to God. He has bidden me 
be His son here. The life of a son is the life of obedience, and He 
has bidden me prove that the life of sonship and the life of man 
are one, and that I must prove. My sonship — not by claim from 
the heavens ; not by being exalted with twelve legions of angels ; 
not with flare of trumpet — I must prove my sonship through 
obedience. I must prove my sonship by working out the will and 
carrying out the word of my Father. There is a long, long, fierce 
struggle before the man who says he will not live by bread alone. 
But by obedience to the word of God the victory will ultimately 
be ours, and our title, " sons of God," be approved. 

^ You must yield yourselves to be led along by the Spirit, 
with that leading which is sure to conduct you always away from 
self and into the will of God. You must welcome the Indweller 
to have His holy way with your springs of thought and will. So, 
and only so, will you truly answer the idea, the description, " sons 
of God " — that glorious term, never to be satisfied by the relation 
of mere creaturehood, or by that of merely exterior sanctification, 
mere membership in a community of men, though it be the 
Visible Church itself. But if you so meet sin by the Spirit, if 
you are so led by the Spirit, you do show yourselves nothing less 
than God's own sons. He has called you to nothing lower than 
sonship; to vital connexion with a Divine Father's life, and to 
the eternal embraces of His love. For when He gave and you 
received the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of promise, who reveals Christ 
and joins you to Him, what did that Spirit do, in His heavenly 
operation ? Did He lead you back to the old position, in which you 
shrunk from God, as from a Master who bound you against your will? 
No, He showed you that in the Only Son you are nothing less than 
sons, welcomed into the inmost home of eternal life and love.* 

' J. Blierley, Religion and To-Day, 143. 

' H. C. G. Monle, The EpisUe to the Eomana, 228. 

ST. MATTHEW iv. 4 63 

^ Francis had conquered, one by one, his love of company, of 
fine clothes, of rank and wealth ; his aversion to squalor, disease, 
and misery ; his daintiness in food and surroundings. AH were 
laid upon the altar of obedience, and for all God gave him a 
thousandfold of their antitypes in the spiritual life — for parents 
and friends, His own continual presence ; for rank, sonship of the 
King of kings; for garments, the robe of righteousness; for 
wealth, " all things " ; for personal fastidiousness, a purity, tender- 
ness, and joy which lifted him above the annoyances of daily 
experience. The weapons marked with the cross were gaining 
him the victory. His vision was in course of fulfilment.^ 

* A. M. Stoddart, Francis ofAssisi, 91. 

The First Beatitude. 



Ainsworth (P. C), The Blessed Life, 61. 

Brett (J.), 2716 Blessed Life, 1. 

Callan (H.), HeaH Cures, 18, 27. 

Carpenter (W. B.), The Great Charter of Christ, 77. 

Charles (Mrs. R.). The Beatitudes, 21. 

Deshon (G.), Sermons for the Ecclesiastical Year, 484. 

Dudden (F. H.), Christ and Christ's Religion, 47. 

Dykes (J. 0.), The Manifesto of the King, 25. 

Eyton (R.), The Beatitudes, 14. 

Fletcher (A. E.), The Sermon on the Mount amd Practical PoKtics, 1. 

Fox (W. J.), Collected Works, iii. 210. 

Gore (C), The Sermon on the Mount, 23. 

Hambleton (J.), The Beatitudes, 32. 

Ingram (A. F. W.), Secrets of Strength, 14. 

Iverach (J.), Tlie Other Side of Greatness, 1. 

Jones (J. D.), The Way into the Kingdom, 23. 

Laverack (F. J.), These Sayings of Mine, 19. 

Leckie (J.), Life and Religion, 209. 

Maolaren (A.), Th* Beatitudes, 1. 

Meyer (F. B.), Blessed a/re Ye, 22. 

Miller (J. R.), The Master's Blesseds, 23. 

Moberley (G.), Sermons on the Beatitudes, 1. 

Monsell (J. S. B.), The Beatitudes, 1. 

Pearson (A.), Ghristus Magister, 51. 

Potts (A. W.), School Sermons, 64. 

Ridgeway (0. J.), The Mounta/in of Blessedness, 12. 

Spurgeon (0. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Iv. (1909), No. 3156. 

Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), New Ser., xxi. (1882), No. 

Wilmot-Buxton (H. J.), Day ly Day Duty, 172. 
Woods (H. G.), At the Temple Church, 185. 
Cambridge Review, it. Supplement Nos. 145, 161 (W. Sanday). 
Christi<(,n World Pulpit, xv. 49 (W. Hubbard) ; xix. 401 (G. G. Bradley) ; 

xxxviii. 3 ("W. J. Woods) ; Ivi. 379 (J. Stalker). 
Church of England Pulpit, Ixii. 101 (C. G. Lang), 
Preacher's Maga^ne, xxiv. 423 (E. G. Loosley). 


The First Beatitude. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven 

Matt. V. 3. 

1. The Beatitudes, which stand in the forefront of Christ's 
moral system, are not meant to convey an exhaustive description 
of the Christian character ; they refer to moral qualities of which 
society can take no cognizance and to which it offers no rewards 
— unobtrusive qualities which press no claims and exact no 
recognitions, and which depend for their existence on a man's 
own inward self-regulation. No doubt the qualities here described 
issue in action, and often in very striking action. They are the 
motive power of many noble acts, they inspire much of the 
heroism of the world, their results win the praise, the enthusiasm, 
the homage of mankind; but in themselves they must exist, 
before anything of this kind can take place, as deliberately chosen 
laws of character and of inward being. They do not easily lend 
themselves to that self-advertisement which is the bane of our 
modern quasi-religious movements, and it would be hard to con- 
struct out of them materials for a thrilling biography ; and yet, 
when accepted as a basis of character, they are full of power — 
their un-self-conscious influence is the strongest thing in the 
world, the thing that still works miracles, the thing that attracts, 
and moves, and sways, and tells in spite of every external gulf. 
They are to be cultivated for themselves, not for their results ; 
for a man would find it hard, if not impossible, to cultivate any one 
of them for the value of the power and influence it would give 
him. The passion of the heart must love them for their own sake, 
if it would take them in perfectly and distribute all around their 
precious results. They come down from heaven, and none may 
summon the gifts of heaven for any ulterior reason ; those who 
would win them must love them for themselves, for their own 

intrinsic beauty. Every one of them, if rightly looked at, will 



kindle within us that sense of beauty, that desire, that longing, 
which is the first step towards possession. It is something to 
admire, to envy, to long for them, to be able to appreciate their 
moral beauty, to have " eyes to see and ears to hear," even if one 
fails grievously to reproduce them in oneself. And the very tone 
and temper of our day, while in some ways it is a hindrance, 
comes in here to help us. In an age when men were weary of the 
rules of ecclesiastics, the hair-splittings of mere ceremonialists 
and of moral expedients, Christ first uttered them, and their 
simple ethical beauty went into the hearts of those who heard 
them. Who can say that there is not much in our modern 
conditions of the same weariness, produced, too, by much the 
same means ? 

^ Last night I spent at home ; I meant to dedicate the time 
to writing, but I was in a mood too dark and hopeless to venture. 
The exhaustion of Sunday remained ; I tried light reading in vain. 
At last Charley came in from school, and I made him do his 
Latin exercise before me; all the while I kept my eyes fixed 
on that engraving of the head of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci, 
which I have had framed, and felt the calm majesty of the counten- 
ance by degrees exerting an influence over me, which was 
sedative. Then I made him read over, slowly, the Beatitudes, and 
tried to fix my mind and heart upon them, and believe them; 
explaining them to him afterwards, and to myself as I went on. 
" Blessed are " — not the successful, but " the poor in spirit." 
" Blessed," not the rich, nor the admired, nor the fashionable, nor 
the happy, but " the meek and the pure in heart, and the merci- 
ful." They fell upon my heart like musie.^ 

2. Our Lord begins His reckoning of blessedness with poverty 
in spirit. And this is evidently just ; for if blessedness depends 
upon attainments, then the first step is to be conscious of poverty. 
He who thinks himself already rich, why should he desire increase ? 
Poverty in spirit leads to mourning and to hunger and thirst for 
righteousness. The heavenly throne is given to those for whom 
it is prepared ; but they must previously have been prepared, and 
preparation of heart involves the poverty in spirit from which 
the golden ladder of the Beatitudes climbs upward to blessedness. 
Earthly thrones are generally built with steps up to them ; the 
remarkable thing about the thrones of the eternal kingdom is 
' Life and Letters of the Rev. F. W. Roleiison, 442, 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 69 

that the steps are all down to them. We must descend if we 
would reigii, stoop if we would rise, gird ourselves to wash the 
feet of the disciples as a common slave in order to share the 
royalty of our Divine Master. 

^ The world has its own idea of blessedness. Blessed is the 
man who is always right. Blessed is the man who is satisfied 
with himself. Blessed is the man who is strong. Blessed is the 
man who rules. Blessed is the man who is rich. Blessed is the 
man who is popular. Blessed is the man who enjoys life. These 
are the beatitudes of sight and this present world. It comes with 
a shock, and opens a new realm of thought, that not one of these 
men entered Jesus' mind when He treated of blessedness.^ 

The Book. 

1. Whom did Jesus mean by the poor in spirit ? It is usually 
supposed that He meant the humble-minded, but this was 
probably not His meaning, as we see from the corresponding 
passage in St. Luke's Gospel. There we find the Beatitude in a 
simpler form : " Blessed are ye poor " ; and this phrase must be 
taken in a literal sense of material poverty, because it is followed 
by the words, " Woe unto you that are rich ! " and it is impossible, 
of course, to suppose that Jesus would have condemned those 
who are spiritually rich. We may feel tolerably sure that the 
very same people whom St. Luke calls simply " poor " are called 
by St. Matthew "poor in spirit." But why the variation of 
phrase, and which of the two phrases did Jesus actually use? 
The latter question is beside the mark. Strictly speaking. He 
did not use either. He spoke Aramaic, the language which in 
His day had superseded Hebrew in Palestine, and the Gospels 
were written in Greek. Both phrases are therefore translations, 
and the actual words used are beyond our reach. There is reason, 
however, to think that St. Matthew's " poor in spirit " is the later, 
and St. Luke's "poor" the earlier, version of the saying. 

We might illustrate our Lord's point of view by a reference 
to the Psalms. The Psalmist frequently speaks of the poor (the 

' John Watson, The Mind of the Master, 65. 


poor and needy) a8 if they were as a matter of course the servants 
of God. They are constantly identified with the godly, the 
righteous, the faithful; they suffer undeservedly; God has a 
special care of them and listens to their cry. There is a certain 
amount of truth, no doubt, in this picture of the poor which the 
Psalms draw. It is true to some extent nowadays. Poverty 
still has a tendency to wean people from worldliness. Poverty 
may, of course, be so grinding as to fill the mind continually with 
sordid anxieties and so make a spiritual life almost impossible. 
But poor people are often strikingly unworldly. 

There is a tendency in all material possession to obscure the 
needs it cannot satisfy. A full hand helps a man to forget an 
empty heart. The things that effectually empty life are the 
things that are commonly supposed to fill it. The man who is 
busy building barns and storehouses is sometimes shutting out 
the sweet alluring light of the city of God and the vision of 
heavenly mansions. " Property " is not the best stimulus to faith. 
" Blessed are the poor." There are fewer obstacles and obstruc- 
tions between them and the Kingdom. They are not compassed 
about with spurious satisfactions. There are not so many things 
standing between them and life's essentials. There is one de- 
lusion the less to be swept from their minds. History bears all 
this out. If you look into the story of the Kingdom, you will 
find it has ever been the kingdom of the poor. They have ever 
been the first to enter in. 

^ The poverty which was honoured by the great painters and 
thinkers of the Middle Ages was an ostentatious, almost a pre- 
sumptuous poverty: if not this, at least it was chosen and 
accepted — the poverty of men who had given their goods to feed 
the simpler poor, and who claimed in honour what they had lost 
in luxury; or, at the best, in claiming nothing for themselves, 
had still a proud understanding of their own self-denial, and a 
confident hope of future reward. But it has been reserved for 
this age to perceive and tell the blessedness of another kind of 
poverty than this; not voluntary nor proud, but accepted and 
submissive; not clear-sighted nor triumphant, but subdued and 
patient ;_ partly patient in tenderness — of God's will; partly 
patient in blindness — of man's oppression; too laborious to be 
thoughtful — too innocent to be conscious — too long experienced 
in sorrow to be hopeful — waiting in its peaceful darkness for the 

ST. MAtTtiEW V. 3 ^ 

unconceived dawn ; yet not without its own sweet, complete, un- 
tainted happiness, like intermittent notes of birds before the day- 
break, or the first gleams of heaven's amber on the eastern grey.^ 

2. Yet the picture which the Psalms put before us is, after 
all, an ideal one. It is very far from being true that all poor 
people are, or ever were, followers of righteousness and godliness. 
Our Lord felt this, just as He also felt the corresponding truth 
about the rich. He begins by telling His disciples how hard it 
is for them that have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God, 
and then He modifies the saying by restricting it to them that 
trust in riches. Exactly the same modification has taken place 
in St. Matthew's version of the Beatitude as compared with St. 
Luke's. The blessing is pronounced on the poor, not, however, on 
the actual poor, but on those who embrace poverty in spirit, even 
though as a matter of fact they are rich. The man who by the 
external accident of his position in life is rich is not necessarily 
debarred from the blessing, because he can be, and indeed ought 
to be, in spirit poor. 

In saying "Blessed are the poor in spirit," then, Jesus is 
saying, Blessed are the unworldly ; blessed are they who, though 
in the world, are not of the world. The world says. Get all you 
can and keep all you get. Jesus says. Blessed are they who in 
will and heart at any rate have nothing. He does not say to 
every one, " Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." That is 
a counsel of perfection beyond the reach of the average man ; it 
needs the spirituality of a Prancis of Assisi to hear and obey 
that command. But He does say to us all. Do not cling to your 
possessions as though they were your own by some inalienable 
right. Be ready to resign them freely and cheerfully if need be. 
Eemember that they are a trust from God. Be ready always to 
use them in His service and for the good of your fellow-men. If 
you can do all this, you are poor in spirit, and the blessing is 

^ So long as 1700 years ago a tract was written upon this 
subject by Clement of Alexandria, entitled, Quis dives salveturl 
(" What rich man shall be saved ? "). The teaching of this ancient 
Father is still to the point : " Eiches in themselves are a thing 
indifferent; the question with regard to them being this, as to 

' Ruskin, Academy Notes, 1868. 


whether they are used as an Ipyawi of good. By those whom He 
praises as poor in spirit, Christ means to denote those who, be 
they rich or poor, are in heart loosened from worldly possessions, 
are therefore poor ; and to this idea an admirable parallel passage 
might be found in 1 Cor. vii. 29, ' They that possess, as though 
they possessed not ' (comp. Jer. ix. 23) ; and in St. James i. 9, 10, 
' But let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate : and 
the rich, in that he is made low.' " "■ 


The Pooe in Spirit. 

The more usual interpretation of " the poor in spirit," however, 
has more interest and attractiveness, and deserves consideration. 

1. Poverty of spirit is not poverty in the lower soul but in 
that higher part of man which comes into immediate contact with 
the Divine, in the higher soul which comes face to face with God, 
in that spirit with which " the Spirit bears witness that we are 
the children of God." 

The simplest way to grasp its meaning is perhaps to consider 
its opposite, i.e., the moral distortion of being lifted up in spirit. 
This uplifted spirit is the spirit of self-exaltation which filled the 
heart of Nebuchadnezzar when he contemplated the glories of the 
great Babylon which he had built. This is the spirit of those 
who are self-satisfied and at ease, who call their lands after their 
own names, and look at everything through the medium of their 
own self-importance. For such the world has no significance 
except as it affects their interest or their convenience. This is 
the radical spirit of worldliness ; for it is the spirit which makes 
self the centre of everything. This spirit is the seed-ground of 
sin. All kinds of wrong become possible to the man who makes 
his own pleasure or aggrandizement the supreme rule of his life. 
Conscience has little place in the heart of the man who makes 
self the axis of reference in all his conduct. This inflated egotism 
is flat against the order of the universe, and essentially hostile to 
the Kingdom of God. It is in one sense the starting-place of 
evil ; it is in another sense its climax. Egotism in moral life is 

' E. G. Loosley. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 n 

the cause of most of the heedlessness and sinfulness of the world ; 
and yet it is only after a prolonged indulgence of selfishness that 
the humane and kindly instincts of nature are destroyed. The 
evil principle of self works till all the finer, better, and purer 
feelings and aspirations are brought to naught. It stands out 
then as the naked antagonist of all that is good. 

^ And so Vergil and Dante come at last to the Angel-Guardian 
of the Cornice, against the place of ascent to the next ring — the 
Angel of Humility, " in his countenance such as a tremulous star 
at morn appears." He bids them to the steps and beats his wings 
on Dante's forehead. There comes to Dante's ears the sound of 
sweet voices singing, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and he 
notices that, though mounting steep stairs, he is lighter than when 
walking on the level below. Why is this ? Vergil explains that 
one of the seven Sin-marks on Dante's brow has been erased by 
the Angel's wings, the Pride-mark, and that all the remaining six 
have, at the same time, become much fainter than before; a 
beautiful indication this of the doctrine that Pride is the deadliest 
foe of human salvation. When the last Sin-mark is removed 
Dante will experience not merely no difficulty in mounting but 
actual delight. Dante feels his brow on hearing this and finds 
that only six of the marks remain, and Vergil smiles at this. True 
humility is not even conscious of being humble.^ 

2. Poverty of spirit is not a feeling of self-disgust which comes 
over us when we compare our gifts and talents with those of 
others ; it is born from no earthly inspiration, it proceeds from 
coming face to face with God. A man may be poor in spirit 
while his soul is on fire with enthusiasm for the cause of God, for 
the good of man. It is born of a double sense, both of the Divine 
greatness and of the Divine nearness. It is shown in unrepining 
acquiescence in our present limitations ; it is shown in acceptance 
of the will of God in everything ; it is shown not in self-depreciation, 
but in the strength that comes of trustfulness. It is the attitude 
which, in the presence of God, recognizes its entire dependence, 
empties itself, and is as a poor man, not that it may be feeble, but 
that God may fill it. It is the virtue which sends a man to his 
knees bowed and humbled and entranced before the Divine Presence, 
even in the hour of his most thrilling triumph. He cannot vaunt 
himself, he cannot push himself, he is but an instrument, and an 
' H. B. Garrod, Damte, Goethe's Faust, and Other Lectures, 140. 


instrument that can work only as long as it is in touch with its 
inward power ; the " God within him " is the source of his power. 
"What can he be but poor in spirit, how can he forget, how can he 
call out " worship me," when he has seen the Vision and heard the 
Voice, and felt the Power of God? Poor in spirit, emptied of 
mere vain, barren conceit, deaf to mere flattery he must be, because 
he has seen and known; he has cried "Holy, Holy, Holy"; he 
knows God, and henceforth he is not a centre, not an idol, but an 
instrument, a vessel that needs for ever refilling, if it is to overflow 
and do its mission. His is the receptive attitude ; not that which 
receives merely that it may keep, but that which receives because 
it must send forth. And so he accepts all merely personal con- 
ditions, not as perfect in themselves, but as capable of being 
transmuted by that inward power which is his own yet not his 
own — his own because God is within him, not his own because he 
is the receiver, not the inspirer. 

^ I am sure there must be many who have a difficulty in 
understanding these words of our Lord — " Blessed are the poor in 
spirit." It must almost seem to them as if He had meant to pro- 
nounce a blessing on the cowardly and mean-spirited ; whereas the 
blessing is on those who know and keep their place in the Divine 
hierarchy. We are dependent creatures, not self-existent or self- 
suf&cing ; but there is nothing degrading in this dependence, for 
we share it with the eternal Son. When we forget this, we lose 
our blessedness, for it consists in the spirit of sonship, by which 
alone we can receive and respond to our Father's love. God does 
not call for the acknowledgment of our dependence as a mere 
homage to His sovereignty, but because we are His children, and 
it is only through this acknowledgment that we can receive His 
fatherly love and blessing. The blessedness arises out of the spirit 
of dependence, and when that spirit departs the blessedness departs 
with it ; therefore as the spirit of independence is the spirit of this 
world, we need not wonder at its unblessedness, for that spirit 
shuts the heart against God and cuts off its supply from the 
Fountain of Life.^ 

3. Only he who has discerned the ideal can feel what is 

described in the text as poverty of spirit. The man contented 

with himself, satisfied with his work and his position, to whom no 

ideal opens itself as something yet imattained, can never feel 

' Thomas Erstine of Linlathan, The Spiritual Order, 233. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 75 

poverty of spirit. In short, this foundation Beatitude, on which 
all the other Beatitudes are built up, sets forth a universal law of 
human life ; it describes the attitude of mind characteristic of the 
wisest, strongest, best of the human family. The greater a man 
is in any walk of life the wider his vision, and the keener his 
insight the greater is his poverty of spirit in the presence of the 
perfection he has seen. 

So doth the greater glory dim the less. 
A substitute shines brightly as a king 
Until a king be by ; and then his state 
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook 
Into the main of waters. 

The vision of the greater glory, showing the contrast between 
what he has seen and what he has in possession, makes the man 
full of poverty of spirit. The stars shine as brightly during the 
daylight as they do at night, but they are invisible because of the 
greater glory of the sun. One can be content with his present 
state only when he has seen no brighter, clearer vision. 

•[f Miss EUice Hopkins writes her impressions of a visit to the 
Briary at this time : 

" At a very unassuming looking house at the foot of the Downs 
lived another of the Immortals, our great painter, who always 
went by the name of the ' Divine Watts.' Mrs. Cameron took us to 
see his studio, and to be introduced to him. We found a slightly 
built man with a fine head, most courteous in manner, and with the 
simplicity and humility of the immortal child that so often dwells 
at the heart of true genius. There was something pathetic to me 
in the occasional poise of the head, the face slightly lifted, as we 
see in the blind, as if in dumb beseeching to the fountain of 
Eternal Beauty for more power to think his thoughts after Him. 
There is always in his work a window left open to the infinite, the 
unattainable ideal." ^ 

4. Poverty of spirit comes first because it must be first. It is 
the foundation on which alone the fabric of spiritual character can 
rise. It is the rich soil in which alone other graces will grow and 
flourish. Hill-tops are barren because the soil is washed off by 
the rains; but the valleys are fertile because there the rich 
deposits gather. In like manner proud hearts are sterile, afford- 
ing no soil in which spiritual graces can grow ; but lowly hearts 
' George Frederic Watts, i. 299. 


are fertile with grace, and in them all lovely things grow. 
If only we are truly poor in spirit, our life will be rich in its 

TJ A consciousness of want and shortcoming is the condition 
of success and excellence in any sphere. Of those who aspire to 
be doctors, lawyers, painters, musicians, scholars, I would say, 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit — blessed are they who are 
conscious of their defect and want — for to them the. high places 
of their professions belong." The only hopeless people in the 
world are the self-satisfied people, the people who do not think 
they need anything. The only man who will ever make a great 
scholar is the man who is keenly conscious of his own ignorance, 
who feels, like Sir Isaac Newton, that he has but gathered a few 
pebbles on the shore of the infinite ocean of truth ; who carries 
the satchel still, like Michel Angelo, into an old age, and who, 
like J. E. Green, dies learning. But the man who starts by think- 
ing he knows everything dooms himself to lifelong ignorance. 
A sense of want, humility of mind, is the very condition of 
excellence and success.^ 

^ The most marked of all the moral features in Dr. Duncan's 
character was humility. He was singularly humble, in considera- 
tion of his great talents, of his vast treasures of learning, and of 
his attainments in the Divine life. But if we set all these aside, 
and compare him with other Christian men, we cannot but come 
to the conclusion that out of all the guests bidden in these days 
by the King within the circle of our knowledge, it was he that 
took the lowest room at the feast. This lowliness was allied to 
the childlike simplicity which pervaded his whole Christian 
course, and was made more evident by the helplessness which 
rendered him so unfit to guide himself in common matters, and 
so willing to be guided by others. But its root lay in his sense of 
the majesty of God, which was far more profound than in other 
men, and humbled him lower in the dust ; in his perception and 
his love of holiness, and the consciousness of his own defect ; in 
his sense of ingratitude for the unparalleled love of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and in his abiding conviction of past sin and of 
present sinfulness. This habitual humbling was deepened by the 
wounding of his very tender conscience, through yielding himself 
to be carried away by what chanced to take hold of his mind. 
These combined elements rendered him an example of an altogether 
rare and inimitable humility. Men who may be reckoned holier 
might be named out of those who served the Lord along with 
' J. D. Jones, The Way into the Kingdom, 31. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 77 

him ; but among them all it would be hard to find one so humble. 
The holiness of Eobert M'Oheyne, if not so deep, was more equal, 
and more thoroughly leavened the character hour by hour. The 
holiness of William Burns was in some respects as deep, and it 
was singularly constant. They were both more watchful, and 
therefore more evenly holy. ' But in the race to stoop down into 
their Lord's sepulchre, John Duncan outran them both ; he was 
the humblest of the three, and of all the men whom most of us 
have known.^ 

5. We must also distinguish between poverty of spirit and self- 
depreciation. There is a false humility which finds pleasure in 
calling itself a worm and a miserable sinner, simply as an excuse 
for being no better. It is a false humility which pleads its humble- 
ness as an excuse for aiming low. It is a false humility which 
says, " We are no better than our fathers were," as an excuse for 
not trying to rise to a higher level, and for maintaining a low 
standard and perpetuating abuses. It is a false humility which 
leads us to take the lower room, that we may shirk our duties and 
avoid taking a lead when we are called upon to do so. It was 
not true humility that led the idle servant to bury his talent in 
the ground. Whatever name it may assume, it is conceit and 
pride that in the heart believes itself fitted for higher things, 
and is discontented with its part on the world's stage. It is pride 
that wishes to be ministered unto, and is too conceited to 
minister. There is no true humility in pretending to be worse 
than we are, in underrating the gifts that God has given us, in 
declining to take the part for which we are fitted. 

^ Do you want a cure for that false humility, that mock 
modesty which says, " I am not worthy," and trumpets its denial 
till all the world knows that an honour has been offered ; which, 
while it says with the lips, " It is too great for me," feels all the 
time in the heart that self-consciousness of merit which betrays 
itself in the affected walk and the showy humility ? Would you 
be free from this folly ? Feel that God is all ; that whether He 
makes you great, or leaves you unknown, it is best for you, because 
it is His work.2 

1 A. Moody Stuart, SecoUecUoiis of the late John Duncan, 175, 
' Stopford A. Brooke, 



The Bbn-bdiction. 

1. The bulk of the remaining Beatitudes point onward to a 
future ; this deals with the present ; not " theirs shall he," but 
"theirs is the kingdom." It is an all-comprehensive promise, 
holding the succeeding ones within itself, for they are but diverse 
aspects — modified according to the necessities which they supply 
— of that one encyclopaedia of blessings, the possession of the 
Kingdom of Heaven. 

The Kingdom of Heaven — what is it here ? Surely we shall 
read the words aright if we think of them as conveying the 
promise of a present dominion of no ordinary kind ; an inward 
power that comes here and now, and finds its exercise in ways all 
unknown to the possessor, that blesses those whom it has never 
seen and cheers those who have felt only its shadow ; an inward 
im-self-conscious, often unrealized, power that flows out and is 
conveyed in a word or a look, or even by something more subtle 
still. So does Christian influence work among men. The poor 
in spirit make men believe that Christ is God, because they show 
the Divine beneath the human. 

Tl Often, as formerly with Jesus, a look, a word sufficed 
Francis to attach to himself men who would follow him until 
their death. It is impossible, alas ! to analyze the best of this 
eloquence, all made of love, intimate apprehension, and fire. The 
written word can no more give an idea of it than it can give us 
an idea of a sonata of Beethoven or a painting by Eembrandt. 
We are often amazed, on reading the memoirs of those who have 
been great conquerors of souls, to find ourselves remaining cold, 
finding in them all no trace of animation or originality. It is 
because we have only a lifeless relic in the hand ; the soul is gone. 
It is the white wafer of the sacrament, but how shall that rouse 
in us the emotions of the beloved disciple lying on the Lord's 
breast on the night of the Last Supper ? ^ 

2. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who feel their 
own unworthiness and utter need, and who seek in Christ the 
sufficiency they do not find in themselves. They have already 

' Paul Sabatier, Life of St. Francis of Assist, 131. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 79 

entered into their heritage because they have learnt their true 
position in it — fit to rule because they have learnt to serve, fit to 
infiuence because they have felt the Divine spark kindling them. 
They may not be called to high office ; their place in the world 
may be a very lowly one, but their rule is more of a fact now 
than if they had the mastery of many legions. For there is no 
influence so certain, so strong, so compelling, as that which is 
founded upon the assured sense of the Divine indwelling, and the 
Divine co-operation; if a man has that sense he must become 
poor in spirit, emptied of mere conceit and shallow pride, because 
he has seen what real greatness is. 

^ The clearest and most significant of all the relationships of 
this grace of humility is that which connects it with greatness. 
Humility and greatness always walk together. I do not think 
that Euskin ever spoke a truer word than when he said, " I 
believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility." That 
truth shines with lustre upon every page of our human record. 
There is nothing more beautiful in the whole of the human story 
than the humility of the greatest men. The mind of the seer is 
not so far from the heart of the little child as we sometimes 
imagine. Most of the great scientific discoveries have been 
achieved through the spirit of humility. Men have been willing 
to be led to great discoveries through observation of the simplest 
things — an apple falling from the tree or steam coming through a 
kettle's spout. The willingness to learn has opened the doors to 
the most fruitful discoveries. An over-assertive knowledge is 
always the cloak of ignorance. And as with knowledge, so with 
everything else. Power always veils itself. It does not seek to 
produce an impression. It does not need to do that. It walks in 
the paths of the humble. There are many people in the world 
who will not stoop to menial tasks. In their blindness they 
imagine humble duties to be a sign of lowly station or inferior 
nature. If they but knew, there is no sign of inferiority so 
patent as that which cannot stoop in lowliness or work in secret. 
There is a beautiful and significant sentence in St. John's record 
of the ministry of our Lord which illustrates this association be- 
tween greatness and humility. This is how it reads: "Jesus 
knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and 
that he was come from God, and went to God ; he riseth from 
supper, and laid aside his garments ; and took a towel, and girded 
himself . . . and began to wash the disciples' feet." The moment 
when He was most conscious of greatness was the time when He 
performed the most menial duty. And that association is always 


true in humble life. Greatness is never ashamed to be found in 
lowly guise. The surest sign of a high nature is that it can stoop 
without apologizing for itself.^ 

3. We can understand the happiness of this attitude. The 
man is absorbed in the work — the God-given work — before him. 
He has no leisure to pause and ask what the world thinks of him. 
There is a real work to do, and he is alive to its importance and 
to the necessity of turning his whole energy into it. The work 
has to be done ; the trust must be discharged ; the criticisms of 
the world, whether favourable or unfavourable, are of little 
moment. Egotism has so small a place in his spirit that he is 
neither uplifted nor depressed by the words of men's lips. His 
soul is set on other things. He seeks the Kingdom of God, and 
no kingdom of self — and it is in the emancipation of self from self 
that he finds that Divine Kingdom. He loses himself to find 
himself. This is the note that seals the possession of the Kingdom 
of Heaven. In fact, this is the keynote of all our Lord's teaching. 
It is the note of His own life. It is expressly what He says of 
Himself : " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me ; for I am 
meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls." 
It is what He teaches by His example. For He ever watched 
the Father's hand. He spoke the Father's words, He did the 
Father's works, and all He thought, felt, and did was done in 
obedience to the Father. He emptied Himself. At every fresh 
departure in His work He spent the night in prayer and fellow- 
ship with the Father, and whenever He needed wisdom and power 
for His life-work He sought these from the Father. Thus in 
virtue of His poverty of spirit He was in possession of the Kingdom. 

^ I cannot tell you how great a point our Blessed Father 
made of self-abandonment, i.e., self-surrender into the hands of 
God. In one place he speaks of it as : " The cream of charity, 
the odour of humility, the flower of patience, and the fruit of 
perseverance. Great," he says, "is this virtue, and worthy of 
being practised by the best-beloved children of God." And again, 
" Our Lord loves with a most tender love those who ^re so happy 
as to abandon themselves wholly to His fatherly care, letting 
themselves be governed by His divine Providence without any 
idle speculations as to whether the workings of this Providence 
' Sidney M. Berry, Graces of the Christian Character, 78. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 3 81 

will be UBeful to them to their profit, or painful to their loss, and 
this because they are well assured that nothing can be sent, 
nothing permitted by this paternal and most loving Heart, which 
will not be a source of good and profit to them. All that is 
required is that they should place all their confidence in Him, 
and say from their heart, ' Into thy hands I commend my spirit,' 
my soul, my body, and all that I have, to do with them as it shall 
please Thee." ^ 

■(I Christ showed that sacrifice, self-surrender, death, is the 
beginning and the course and the aim and the essential principle 
of the higher life. To find life in our own way, to wish to save it, 
to seek to gain it, to love it, is. He proclaims, to miss it altogether. 
. . . The law of sacrifice is based on essential moral relations, 
justified by the facts of common experience, welcomed by the 
universal conscience. . . . Sacrifice alone is fruitful. . . . The 
essence of sin is selfishness in respect of men, and self-assertion 
in respect of God, the unloving claim of independence, the arro- 
gant isolation of our interests. . . . That which we use for our- 
selves perishes ignobly : that which He uses for us but not on us 
proves the beginning of a fuller joy. Isolation is the spring of 
death ; life is revealed through sacrifice. . . . Vicarious toil, pain, 
sufi'ering, is the very warp of life. When the Divine light falls 
upon it, it becomes transformed into sacrifice. . . . Not one tear, 
one pang, one look of tender compassion, one cry of pitying 
anguish, one strain of labouring arm, offered in the strength of 
God for the love of man, has been in vain. They have entered 
into the great life with a power to purify, and cheer, and nerve, 
measured not by the standard of our judgment but by the com- 
pleteness of the sacrifice which they represent.* 

1 J. P. Camns, The Spirit of St. Frarnds De Sales, 278, 
' Bishop Westcott, The Victory of the Crosi, 22. 

ST. MATT. — 6 

The Pure in Heart. 


Ainsworth (P. 0.), The Blessed Life, 131. 

Barrett (G. S.), Musings for Quiet Hours, 110. 

Dykes (J. O.), The Manifesto of the King, 119. 

Gore (C), The Sermon on the Mount, 40. 

Houchin (J. W.), The Vision of Ood, 1. 

Hull (E. L.), Sermons, 1. 154. 

Huntington (F. D.), Christ in the Christian Year : Advent to Trinity, 

Jones (J. S.), The Invisible Things, 34. 
Kennett (R. H.), In Our Tongues, 51. 
Lightfoot (J. B.), Cambridge Sermons, 34. 
Lockyer (T. P.), The Inspirations of the Christian Life, 144. 
Maclaren (A.), The Beatitudes, 53. 

Meyer (H. H.), in Drew Sermons on the Golden Texts for 1910, 19. 
Miller (J. E.), The Master's Blesseds, 125. 
Momerie (A. W.), The Origin of Evil, 283. 
Neale (J. M.), Sermons for Children, 105. 
Parkhurst (C. H.), The Blind Man's Creed, 205. 
Peabody (F. G.), Mornings in the College Chapel, i. 69. 
Smith (W. C), Sermons, 50. 
Thompson (J. R.), Burden Bearing, 187. 
Vaughan (C. J.), University Sermons, 425. 
Wardell (R. J.), Studies in Homiletics, 106. 
Wilberforoe (B.), Spiritual Consciousness, 88. 
Wray (J. J.), Honey in the Comb, 59. 
British Gongregationalist, February 2, 1911 (J. H. Jowett). 
Camibridge Review, v. Supplement No. 126 (G. Salmon). 
Christian World Pulpit, xxix. 238 (J. Lloyd) ; xxxix. 12 (0. A. Vince) ; 

Ixvi. 337 (W. T. Davison) ; Ixxxiii. 33 (J. S. Holden). 


The Pure in Heart. 

Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see God. — Matt. v. 8. 

If there be in the bright constellation of the Beatitudes one 
particular star, it is this text. If in blessedness there be a crown 
of blessedness, it is here. If there be a character that in its very 
quintessence is spiritual, it is this. And if there be a delight 
above all conceivable delights, it is that which is promised in these 
well-known words. So lofty a verse is this, that it is one of the 
texts which the preacher trembles to take, and yet is continually 
impelled to take, that at least he may teach himself if he cannot 
teach other people, and that preacher and congregation together 
may do a little towards climbing up to summits which seem like 
the far-off Alpine heights. 

Oh, snow so pure, Oh, peak so high, 
I shall not reach you till I die. 

Yet lofty and remote as they seem, these words are in truth 
among the most hopeful and radiant that ever came even from 
Christ's lips. For they offer the realization of an apparently im- 
possible character. They promise the possession of an apparently 
impossible vision. They soothe fears, and tell us that the sight 
from which, were it possible, we should sometimes shrink, is the 
source of our purest gladness. 


The Vision. 


" They shall see God " ; what do these words mean ? In their 
widest and fullest significance they must remain to us an eternal 
mystery. They express the object around which all the hopes and 
fears of the best men of the human race have always gathered, and 


around which they are gathering still. To see God has been 
the ultimate aim of all philosophy; it is the ultimate hope 
of all science, and it will ever remain the ultimate desire of all 

^ In all the nobler religions which the world has seen, we 
can trace an endeavour to rise to a vision of God. The Brahmin 
on the burning plains of the East gave up all the present charm 
of life, and, renouncing ease and love, passed his years in silent 
thought, hoping to be absorbed into the Eternal. The Greek 
philosopher spoke of passions that clogged the soul's wings, and 
desires that darkened its piercing eye, and he strove to purge his 
spirit from them by philosophy, that he might free its pinions 
and quicken its sight for beholding the Infinite. And in this 
light we can understand how the monks in the Middle Ages 
became so marvellously earnest. These men felt a Presence 
around their path which at one time appeared to reveal itself like 
a dream of splendour, and at another swept like a vision of terror 
across the shuddering heart; and to behold Him they crushed 
their longings for fellowship, steeled their hearts to the calls of 
affection, and alone, in dens and deserts, hoped, by mortifying the 
body, to see God in the soul. In a word, the dream which has 
haunted the earnest of our world, has ever been this — to be 
blessed, man must know the Eternal. Christ proclaims that 
dream to be a fact — they are blessed who see God.^ 

1. To see God is to stand on the highest point of created being. 
Not until we see God — no partial and passing embodiment of Him, 
but the abiding Presence — do we stand upon our own mountain- 
top, the height of the existence which God has given us, and up to 
which He is leading us. That there we should stand is the end 
of our creation. This truth is at the heart of everything, means 
all kinds of completions, may be uttered in many ways ; but 
language will never compass it, for form will never contain it. 
Nor shall we ever see, that is, know, God perfectly. We shall 
indeed never absolutely know man or woman or child; but we 
may know God as we never can know human being, as we never 
can know ourselves. We not only may, but we must, so know 
Him, and it can never be until we are pure in heart. 

If Eeligion largely lies in the consciousness of our true relation 
to Him who made us ; and the yearning for the realization of this 
• E. L. Hull, Sermons, i, 155, 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 87 

consciousness found constant expression in Tennyson's works and 
conversation. Perhaps its clearest expression is to be found in 
his instructions to his son : " Eemember, I want ' Crossing the 
Bar ' to be always at the end of all my works." 

I hope to see my Pilot face to face 
When I have crossed the Bar. 

When in answer to the question, What was his deepest 
desire of all ? he said, " A clearer vision of God," it exactly 
expressed the continued strivings of his spirit for more light 
upon every possible question, which so constantly appear in his 

Is not the Vision He? tho' He be not that which He 

seems ? 
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in 

dreams ? 

Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb, 
Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him? 

Dark is the world to thee: thyself art the reason why; 
For is He not all but that which has power to feel " I 
am I"? 

Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom, 
Making Him broken gleams, and a stifled splendour and 

And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man can- 
not see; 

But if we could see and hear, this Vision — were it not 

2. To see God is to be admitted into His immediate presence 

and friendship. In the court language of ancient Oriental 

despotisms, where the Sovereign was revered as if he were the 

vicegerent of Heaven, to " see the king's face " stood for the highest 

felicity of the most favoured subjects. It was the petition of the 

disgraced prince Absalom, after he had for two full years resided 

in the capital without being received at his father's palace : " Now 

therefore let me see the king's face ; and if there be iniquity in 

' Tennyson and Sis Friends, 305. 
^ Tennyson, The Higher Pantheism. 


me, let him kill me ! " " Happy are these thy servants," said the 
African queen to Solomon; happy in this, that they "stand 
continually before thee." So the seven chief princes of the Medo- 
Persian Empire who sat first in the kingdom of Ahasuerus were 
they " which saw the king's face." The same magnificent phrase- 
ology passed from the court to the temple. In the Hebrew State, 
Jehovah was the national Sovereign ; and the reigning king was, in 
no flattering hyperbole, but in constitutional law. His elected 
vicegerent. The temple was His palace, the most holy place His 
chamber of presence and of audience ; and the one thing desired 
by His devout and favoured servants was to behold His beauty; 
their prayer, that His face would shine on them ; their hope, to 
see His face in righteousness, and one day to be satisfied with His 

^ In prayer there would sometimes come upon me such a sense 
of the Presence of God that I seemed to be all engulfed in God. 
I think the learned call this mystical experience ; at any rate, it 
so suspends the ordinary operations of the soul that she seems to 
be wholly taken out of herself. This tenderness, this sweetness, 
this regale is nothing else but the Presence of God in the 
praying soul. God places the soul in His immediate Presence, 
and in an instant bestows Himself upon the soul in a way she 
could never of herself attain to. He manifests something of His 
greatness to the soul at such times: something of His beauty, 
something of His special and particular grace. And the soul 
enjoys God without dialectically understanding just how she so 
enjoys Him. She burns with love without knowing what she has 
done to deserve or to prepare herself for such a rapture. It is 
the gift of God, and He gives His gifts to whomsoever and when- 
soever He will.^ 

3. The theophany, or visible discovery of the Divine Being, 
which was given to the best period of Hebrew history, was a 
prefigure of the Incarnation — the chief theophany of all time — 
in which, through a human character and life, there has been 
discovered to us all the ethical beauty and splendour of the God- 
head. To " see God " must now for ever mean nothing else than 
this : to see His " truth arid grace " mirrored in the face of that 
Man, who alone of all men on earth " is of God, and hath seen 
the Father." 

' Saint Teresa. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 89 

^ We are in the world to see God. That is the final spiritual 
purpose of life. Across the cradle of the babe and the playtime 
of the girls and boys this purpose ever falls. It can be forgotten 
and frustrated, but as life's highest possibility and truest destiny 
it is always with us. It follows the prodigal in his wandering, 
the fool in his folly, the strong man in his wilfulness. It is all- 
inclusive. It waits men in the quiet places of thought, and in 
the clangour of the world's work. The student, the book-writer, 
the weaver at his loom, the buyer and seller, the woman mid her 
household cares — the vision is close to them all. It is before us 
in the sunlight and the green earth, it is about us in all the 
grace and trust and intimacy of home life. In youth and age, in 
gladness and in grieving, the vision waits. And most of all the 
vision draws near to us in the life of Him who said, " He that 
hath seen me hath seen the Father." ^ 

^ Through all the complexities of Christ's mind and mission, 
how essentially single His spirit and simple His method — rare 
as morning air, Hmpid as spring water, clear as a running brook, 
ever standing in the truth, utterly veracious and sublimely 
superior to worldly policy ! Is not this, indeed, the meaning of 
that choice beatitude — among those beatitudes with their seven- 
fold colours like a rainbow round the throne of Christ — " Blessed 
are the pure in heart, for they shall see God " ? Not the " im- 
maculate" — it would be superfluous to say, "Blessed are the 
holy" — but rather those of pure intent and single spirit, free 
from duplicities in their motives. " Blessed " in that trueness of 
spirit which gives vision, that honest and unadulterated child- 
heart which enables us to see our Pather-God and the Good 

If clearer vision Thou impart. 

Grateful and glad my soul shall be; 

But yet to have a purer heart 
Is more to me. 

Yea, only as the heart is clean 

May larger vision yet be mine. 
For mirrored in its depths are seen 

The things divine.* 

1 P. 0. Aiusworth, The Blessed Ufe, 132. 

" R. E. "Welsh, Man to Man, 90. 

' Walter 0. Smith, Poetical Works, 478. 



The Condition of the Vision. 

There are three distinct kinds of sight. There is, first of all, 
physical sight, which depends chiefly on bodily organs, and which 
merely enables us to distinguish material objects from one another. 
Then, secondly, there is mental sight — the sight of the scientist 
and the poet. This faculty helps men to discover analogies and 
resemblances and connexions between dissimilar and distant 
things ; and hence it gives rise to the metaphors and similes of 
poetry, and leads to the discovery of the laws of nature. It was 
the faculty of mental vision, for example, that led to the establish- 
ment of the widest scientific generalization, by suggesting to 
Newton that perhaps the earth might exercise the same influence 
of attraction upon the moon as it did upon a falling apple. Then, 
thirdly, there is spiritual sight, which belongs to the man of 
faith and pure heart. Spiritual vision enables men to see Him 
who is invisible. 

^ I care not whether God's self-revelation in the conscience 
be called an immediate vision of God in the experiences of con- 
science, or whether it be taken as an inference drawn from the 
data they supply. It is the truth contained in them ; with one 
man it may be only implicitly felt in their solemn and mystic 
character ; with another, explicitly and immediately seen emerging 
from them as they come, and making him the Seer of God rather 
than the reasoner about Him. In any case, the constitution of 
our moral nature is unintelligible, except as living in response to 
an objective Perfection pervading the universe with Holy Law.^ 

1. God cannot be seen by the eye of sense. Of course, we 
know that ; we admit it at once ; and yet men have an idea that 
God was nearer to the patriarchs, and the people in the early 
days who, in a vision or in some way or other — we hardly know 
how — did see God ; and though they do not know what heaven 
is, they think that somehow or other, by and by, in another state, 
they will see and consciously have a sensible vision. It cannot 
be. " Eye hath not seen," and eye can never see. And God is 
not seen by reason. Doubtless if reason were freed from all 
1 James Martineau, A Study of Helicon, ii. 28. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 91 

clogs and hindrances and drawbacks, if it worked with perfect 
clearness and completeness, we might reason about God; but 
even so we should conclude and argue and infer ; we should not 
see. Nor by imagination. Imagination may do a great deal, but 
the danger with regard to it is that we deceive ourselves, that 
we worship our own fancies, and that the image below us is one 
which we see in a mirror, and which we ourselves have, so to 
speak, created. And God cannot be seen by means of traditional 
knowledge, though that is very good. One hopes that religious 
knowledge will continually be handed on from parents to children, 
and that the children are being taught in all that is good, and 
that they learn that God is infinite and eternal and omniscient ; 
and well indeed that so they should learn. But they do not see 
Him by that process. And faith — faith can do a great deal. It 
has a marvellous power of transporting us beyond ourselves, and 
beyond the world of the seen and tangible ; but faith itself is op- 
posed to sight, and though faith can trust and obey, it cannot see. 

^ You know that your friend is never seen by the eye of the 
body ; you can discern a form, a figure, a countenance, by which 
you know that he is near ; but that is not the friend you love ; 
you discern him spiritually ; you understand his inner character ; 
you know his truth, his nobleness, his affection, his charity — all 
these the eye of sense cannot see. A stranger does not see him 
thus ; he sees only the visible form and feature which imperfectly 
represent the qualities of mind and heart which you know ; but 
you see in that friend things which were invisible to the other. 
It is in this sense — in understanding the truth and goodness, in 
feeling the pity and charity, in holding communion with the 
loving spirit of the Father — that Christ speaks of seeing God.^ 

^ Science is teaching us now that at each end of the spectrum, 
beyond the red rays and the violet rays, there are rays of light 
which our eyes cannot perceive. We know perfectly well that 
there are notes of music too acute or too grave for our ears to 
apprehend them. Do they not exist, then, though the ear cannot 
hear them ? And so in religious matters, even though we are 
regular worshippers in the Lord's house, and profess to know a 
great deal about Christianity, we may be as blind men walking 
in a gallery of pictures or — I will not say as deaf men, but — as 
a large number of those who go to a Beethoven concert.^ 

' E. L. Hull, Sermons, i. 159, 

2 W. T. Davison. 


2. The vision of God is possible only to the pure in heart. 
The word " pure " as ordinarily used, in Hebrew, in Greek, and 
in English, means "without alloy," "clean," "clear," "simple," 
" single." It is applied, in the Bible, to virgin gold, to a clean 
table or candlestick, to flawless glass, to unmixed oil, and to water 
that is only water. It does not necessarily involve a moral 
element. It never stands for absolute sinlessness of being. Hence 
it is to be taken, in the Sermon on the Mount as well as else- 
where, when connected with " heart," or " mind," as meaning 
" single," " simple," " unmixed." The " pure in heart " are those 
whose minds, or very selves, are single, simple, undivided and un- 
alloyed in one aim and purpose. 

Single-mindedness, or simple-mindedness, is a characteristic of 
childhood. A child is all attent to one thing at a time, looking 
at that one thing with single eye and simpleness of mind ; while 
double-mindedness, or divided thinking, is the peril of the full- 
grown person. How many things a keen-eyed child will see in 
an everyday walk that are unnoticed by the father whom he 
accompanies ! The father has too many things in his mind, or on 
his mind, to observe that which, for the moment, is the all in all 
to the single-eyed and simple-minded — or, as the Bible would call 
it, the pure-hearted — child. Therefore it is that our Lord said to 
His maturer disciples : " Verily I say unto you. Whosoever shall 
not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no 
wise enter therein " (Luke xviii. 17). The pure in heart are the 
child-minded. They shall see God, because when they are looking 
for Him they are not looking for anything else. Their eyes 
are single, their minds are undivided, and their whole being 
goes out towards the object of their search. They seek for 
God, and they find Him when they search for Him with all their 

^ He returned to the Abbey, and preached his sermon on the 
words, " Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see God." The 
short, simple discourse contained the last words that he spoke in 
Westminster Abbey. By one of those strange coincidences that 
seem more than chance, the subject of his sermon was the blessed- 
ness of purity of heart and life, which those who knew him best 
considered to be the distinguishing quality of his character and 
career. " The words," he said, " may bear a twofold meaning — 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 93 

pure, disinterested love of truth, and pure and clean aversion to 
everything that defiles." He goes on to give three examples of 
the blessedness of purity in men whose hearts and writings were 
pure, and who not only abstained from anything which could 
defile the soul, but fixed their eyes intently on those simple affec- 
tions and those great natural objects of beauty which most surely 
guard the mind from corrupting influences. " And what," he asks 
in the words which conclude his last sermon, " is the reason that 
our Saviour gives for this blessedness of the pure in heart ? It is 
that they shall see God. What is the meaning of this connexion ? 
It is because, of all the obstacles which can intervene between us 
and an insight into the invisible and the Divine, nothing presents 
so coarse and thick a veil as the indulgence of the impure passions 
which lower our nature, and because nothing can so clear up our 
better thoughts, and nothing leaves our minds so open to receive 
the impression of what is good and high, as the single eye and 
pure conscience, which we may not, perhaps, be able to reach, but 
which is an indispensable condition of having the doors of our 
mind kept open and the channel of communication kept free 
between us and the Supreme and Eternal Fountain of all purity 
and of all goodness." ^ 

T[ I hardly know whether Dean Stanley's last words will make 
an adequate impression upon the pubHc. The Dean had begun 
on Saturday afternoons a course of sermons on the Beatitudes. 
In great weakness he finished the fourth sermon a little more 
than a week before his death, and for his text on that occasion he 
took two of the benedictions together, " Blessed are the merciful : 
for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart : for 
they shall see God." He illustrated his discourse from conspicuous 
monuments in the Abbey, taking sometimes one instance, and 
sometimes another, but I think that the Dean himself was the 
best instance of these two benedictions, for he was a merciful man, 
and as pure in heart as a little child. In some aspects of his 
character he was more like a little child than a full-grown man 
who had lived sixty-five years in the midst of this wicked world. 
In many aspects of its wickedness the world had never tainted his 
pure soul.^ 

3. It is not enough to be clean outside. In our Lord's days 

much attention was paid by religious people to external purity. 

They had many ceremonies of washing. They washed nearly 

^ R. E. Prothero, Life of Bean Stanley, ii. 667. 
^ Bishop Fraeer's Lancashire Life, 267, 


everything they used — not to make it clean, but to make it holy. 
They were quick to condemn any one who failed to observe all 
the rules for outward cleansing. Yet Jesus reproved them for 
their insincerity, for while they made clean the outside of the 
cup and the platter, within they were full of extortion and excess. 
He said they were like whited sepulchres, which appeared beautiful 
without, but within were full of dead men's bones and all unclean- 
ness. It is not enough to have a fair exterior; the heart must be 
pure. It is in the heart that God would live. The heart, too, is 
the centre of the life. If the heart be not holy, the life cannot 
be holy. 

If " Blessed are the pure in heart : for they shall see God." 
There is no fault in our Authorized Version in this passage, but 
the words " pure in heart " should be rendered in modern English, 
" clear in their affections." These are the truly simple, who read 
Dante's Ben del Intelletto — the vision of the Godhead. To be truly 
pure in heart is to search for one's main duty and to set oneself 
to do it, subordinating to this life-task all other desires and all 
distractions of a more or less material kind.^ 

Bernard made signal to me with a smile 
To look above; but of myself had I 
Anticipated his desire the while ; 

For now my vision, clearer than before, 
Within that Beam of perfect Purity 
And perfect Truth was entering more and more. 

From this time forward that which filled my sight 
Became too lofty for our mortal strains ; 
And memory fails to take so vast a flight.^ 

^ In the Middle Ages, and sometimes since, men who desired 
earnestly to see the vision of God strove to attain it by asceticism 
— that is, by a sort of forced, mechanical purity. The mechanism, 
we believe, failed, for it was not appointed of God, but was a 
clumsy contrivance of men. Yet the attempt showed a recogni- 
tion, however perverse, of the truth which Christ puts here so 
beautifully and simply. The same truth inspired the chivalrous 
legend of the Holy Grail. Many brave and worthy knights 
addressed themselves to the quest of the Sangreal, yearning to see 
the vision of the chalice that brimmed red with the very blood of 
God Incarnate, and to win the mysterious blessings which that 

' H. B. Garrod, Dante, Goetlie's Faust, and Other Lectures, 376. 
' Dante, Paradiso, xxxiii. 49-57 (trans, by Wright). 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 95 

vision brought. But to none was it given to accomplish the 
quest save to the pure in heart. The knight who could sing, 

My strength is as the strength of ten, 
Because my heart is pure — 

he it was who was sanctified and consoled by the mystic vision 

A gentle sound, an awful light ! 

Three angels bear the Holy Grail: 
With folded feet, in stoles of white, 

On sleeping wings they sail. 
Ah, blessed vision ! blood of God ! 

My spirit beats her mortal bars, 
As down dark tides the glory slides, 

And star-like mingles with the stars. 

Sir Galahad no longer rides in harness on quests of knight- 
errantry ; he labours without fame in the byways of life. But 
he is still consoled by the reward of purity, and endures as seeing 
Him who is invisible.^ 

4. There is no true purity apart from the absolute enthrone- 
ment of God in the affections. It is not the absence of unholy 
affections, it is the presence of a holy and surpassing earnest love, 
that makes us really pure. Man is not made by negatives. It is 
not what the heart loves not, but what it loves, that makes the 
man : " As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The soul is so 
supremely an altar that it must worship something in its inmost 
shrine ; and unless it worship God there, it cannot be pure. 

Jesus saw God reflected in His own soul. His own pure soul 
was a mirror in which spiritual imageship to the Heavenly Father 
was perfectly revealed. For us His thoughts were God's thoughts. 
His love was God's love. His will was God's will. So perfectly 
at one with the holy Father was His pure heart that, when He 
looked into the depths of His own being. He had His profoundest 
revelations of the moral nature of His Father. There was no 
blur upon His soul. The cloudless likeness of the Heavenly 
Father was there. Alas, that upon our hearts the breath of sin 
has condensed itself so that we see in ourselves only a foggy image 
of God I 

» 0. A. Vinoe. 


The truth in God's breast 
Lies trace upon trace on ours imprest: 
Tho' He is so bright, and we are so dim, 
We were made in His image to witness Him. 

^ The heart where " Christ dwells " is, so far as His residence 
there is unhindered and entire, the purified heart. Let Him be 
welcomed not into its vestibule only but into its interior chambers, 
and the Presence will itself be purity. Before Him so coming, so 
abiding, the strife of passion cannot but subside. Flowing out 
from His intimate converse there, the very love of God will mix 
itself with the motives and the movements of the will. The 
heart thus made the chamber of His life will by a sure law reflect 
His character ; nay, it will find itself shaped and dilated by His 
heart, not from its exterior or circumference, but from its centre.^ 

Tf Mark Eutherford says, " The love of the beautiful is itself 
moral. What we love in it is virtue. A perfect form or a 
delicate colour is the expression of something which is destroyed 
in us by subjugation to the baser desires or meanness ; and he who 
has been unjust to man or woman misses the true interpretation 
of a cloud or a falling wave." In the light of this beatitude I 
think he is right. Sin does not cheat a man out of the fragrance 
of a rose, but it cheats him out of that sweeter soul-fragrance of 
Divine love that is folded in every petal. Sin does not veil from 
our eyes the fashion of things seen, but it obscures their eternal 
and spirit-satisfying meaning. The impure shall see all — except 
God. That is to say, they shall see nothing as it is. For the 
pure-hearted all the mystery of the waking earth tells something 
of the soul's immortal story. Through the avenues of sight the 
pure heart goes on and finds insight. Through all that the ear can 
hear and the hand can touch, it passes into that real world that 
is so near to us all, if we but knew it, where failing voices utter 
unfailing messages and where beneath the ephemeral the soul 
finds the eternal.* 

5. The vision of the pure in heart is its own exceeding 

blessedness. HoUness has in itself the elements of happiness. It 

frees us from a thousand sources of pain, the inward strife of the 

heart with itself, the condemning voice of conscience, the fret and 

worry of anxious worldly care, the bitterness of passion, anger, 

envy, jealousy, discontent, and a thousand thorns that spring in 

1 H. C. G. Monle, FaUh, 1B6. 

« P. 0. Ainsworth, The Blessed Life, 137. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 8 97 

the soil of the natural heart — these roots are all removed and the 
" peace of God, which passeth all understanding," keeps the heart 
and mind, and makes life a heaven below. 

^ Horace Bushnell gives his own experience in these words : 
" Clear of all the vices, having a naturally active-minded, inquiring 
habit, never meaning to get away from the truth, one has yet 
relapsed into such doubt as to find that he has nearly lost the 
conviction of God, and cannot, if he would, say with emphasis 
that God exists. Such a one pacing in his chamber, comes some 
day suddenly upon the question — Is there then no truth that I 
do believe ? Yes, there is one ; there is a distinction of right 
and wrong, that I never doubted, and can see not how I can. 
Nay, I am even quite sure of this. Then forthwith starts up the 
question — Have I ever taken the principle of right for my law ? 
Have I ever thrown my life out on it, to become all that it 
requires of me ? No matter what becomes of my difficulties, if I 
cannot take a first principle so inevitably true and live in it. 
Here, then, will I begin, If there is a God, as I rather hope than 
dimly believe there is, then He is a right God. If I have lost 
Him in wrong, perhaps I shall find Him in right. Will He not 
help me, or, perchance, even be discovered to me ? Then he prays 
to the dim God so dimly felt. It is an awfully dark prayer in the 
first look of it; but it is the truest and best that he can; the 
better and more true that he puts no orthodox colours on it ; and 
the prayer and the vow are so profoundly meant that his soul is 
borne up with God's help, as it were by some unseen chariot, and 
permitted to see the opening of heaven. He rises, and it is as if 
he had gotten wings. The whole sky is luminous about him. It 
is the morning of a new eternity. After this all troublesome 
doubt of God's reality is gone. A being so profoundly felt must 
inevitably be." ^ 

' 0. H. Parkhurst, The £Und Man's Creed, 215. 

ST. MATT.^7 

The Salt of the Earth. 


Austin (A. B.), Linked Lives, 221. 

Brooke (S. A.), Short Sermons, 22. 

Chadwick (W. E.), Christ and Everyday Life, 134. 

Church (R. W.), Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, 110. 

Cope (F. L.), A NortK Country Preacher, 161. 

Dixon (A. C), Through Night to Morning, 194. 

Dyke (H. van), The Open Door, 63. 

Furst (A.), Christ the Way, 31. 

Gough (E. J.), The Religion of the Son of Mem, 57. 

Hamer (D. J.), Salt amd Light, 3. 

Hamilton (J.), Works, vi. 212. 

King (T. S.), Christianity and Humanity, 267. 

Lyttelton (E.), The Sermon on the Mount, 113. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew i.-viii., 178. 

Mantle (J. Q.), God^s To-Morrow, 19. 

Meyer (F. B.), The Directory of the Devout Life, 33. 

Miller (J.), Sermons Litera/ry and Scientific, ii. 369. 

Peabody (F. Q.), Mornings in the College Chapel, iL 52. 

Smith (N.), Members One of Another, 153. 

Smith (W. C), The Sermon on the Mount, 37. 

Symonda (A. B.), Fifty Sermons, 352. 

Tait (A.), The Charter of Christianity, 97. 

Thorold (A. W.), Questions of Faith and Duty, 179. 

Trench (E. C), Westrrdnsteir and Other Sermons, 281. 

Whately (E.), Sermons, 251. 

Christian World Pulpit, il. 360 (A. Melville) ; Iviii. 183 (H. S. Holland) ; 

Ixx. 49 (A. Clayton); Ixxvi. 75 (W. Glover); Ixxxii. 282 (N. 


The Salt of the Earth. 

Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost its savour, where- 
with shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast 
out and trodden under foot of men.— Matt. v. 13. 

The exact position of these words in the Sermon on the Mount 
must be carefully remembered. They follow immediately after 
the Beatitudes — those sayings in which Christ had described the 
various qualities of character essential to the citizen of the 
Kingdom of Heaven, that is, for one who would obey the rule 
which He had come on earth to establish and extend. A citizen 
of that Kingdom, Christ had just taught His hearers, must be 
humble-minded : he must grieve over the sin and the various evils 
which exist in the world; he must be gentle; he must desire 
righteousness above all things ; he must be merciful ; he must be 
pure-minded in the fullest sense of the words ; he must do all in 
his power to promote peace ; and he must be prepared to suffer in 
order that righteousness may be promoted and extended. A 
character which fulfils these conditions, that is, a character of 
which these virtues are the factors, is the character desired by 
Christ, and such a character is His own. 

Immediately after this description has been given, as soon as 
ever this ideal has been set us as the standard, Christ addresses the 
words of the text to those who were following Him and learning 
from Him. To them He looked to cultivate this character. And 
for a moment He thinks of them, not as they actually were, but 
as He would have them be. For a moment He treats them as if 
His ideal for them were already realized in them; He does 
not say ye shall be, but ye are the salt of the earth. The 
spirit of all the united qualities commended in the Beatitudes 
is the salt of the life of the world. All of them — meekness and 
humility and purity and the rest — run up into two : the spirit of 
love and the spirit of righteousness. These, then, embodied in 


human life, are the salt of the earth, the salt of Churches and 
nations, of all forms of human activity, of thought, of imagination, 
of business, of the daily life of men. These keep humanity fresh 
and living, preserve it from corruption, and add to it the savour 
which secures to men their true and enduring enjoyment of life. 
But chiefly, in Christ's present idea, they were the freshening, 
purifying, preserving element in His Kingdom. 


The Salt and its Savour. 

" Ye are the salt of the earth." 

1. Salt is one of those superfluities which the great French 
wit defined as " things that are very necessary." From the very 
beginning of human history men have set a high value upon it and 
sought for it in caves and by the seashore. The nation that had 
a good supply of it was counted rich. A bag of salt, among the 
barbarous tribes, was worth more than a man. The Jews prized 
it especially because they lived in a warm climate where food 
was difficult to keep, and because their religion laid particular 
emphasis on cleanliness, and because salt was largely used in their 

^ Both in Hebrew and in Eoman bywords, salt is praised as a 
necessity of human life. Homer calls it "divine," and Plato 
speaks of it as a " substance dear to the gods." It is an indis- 
pensable element in the food both of men and of animals. 
It is so cheap and plentiful with us that we can hardly reaUze 
that there are places where there is what is known as salt 
starvation, which is in its way even more painful than hunger or 
thirst. A missionary tells us that in Africa he has known natives 
who have travelled fifty or sixty miles in search of salt. Their hot 
African blood, lacking the purifying and health-giving salt, has 
broken out in painful ulcers which drain the life and energy; 
and when the mission-house has been reached they have begged 
in piteous tones, not for money or bread, but for salt.^ 

^ Chloride of sodium (common salt) is fortunately one of the 
most widely distributed, as well as one of the most useful and 
absolutely necessary, of nature's gifts ; and it is a matter of much 

' J. G. Mantle, Ood's To-Morrow, 22. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 13 103 

comfort to know that this mineral exists in such enormous 
quantities that it can never be exhausted. " Had not," says Dr. 
Buckland, " the beneficent providence of the Creator laid up these 
stores of salt within the bowels of the earth, the distance of 
inland countries from the sea would have rendered this article of 
prime and daily necessity unattainable to a large proportion of 
mankind; but under the existing dispensation, the presence of 
mineral salt, in strata which are dispersed generally over the 
interior of our continents and larger islands, is a source of health 
and daily enjoyment to the inhabitants of almost every region." 
Even supposing that the whole of the mines, brine pits, and 
springs become exhausted, we can fall back on the sea, whose 
supply is as boundless as its restless self ; and there is as little 
fear of its exhaustion as there is of the failure of the sun's heat.^ 

2. From one point of view it was an immense compliment for 
the disciples to be spoken of as salt. Their Master showed great 
confidence in them. He set a high value upon them. The 
historian Livy could find nothing better to express his admiration 
for the people of ancient Greece than this very phrase. He called 
them sal gentium, " the salt of the nations." But our Lord was 
not simply paying compliments. He was giving a clear and 
powerful call to duty. His thought was not that His disciples 
should congratulate themselves on being better than any other 
men. He wished them to ask themselves whether they actually 
had in them the purpose and the power to make (Dther men better. 
Did they intend to exercise a purifying, seasoning, saving influence 
in the world ? Salt exists solely to purify, not itself, but that 
which needs its services. The usefulness of the Church as a 
separated society lies wholly in the very world from which it 
has been so carefully separated. It exists to redeem that world 
from itself. Out of love for that world it is sent by the same 
impulse of the Father as sent to it His only-begotten Son; 
and the damning error of the Pharisee is that he arrests this 
Divine intention in mid career, arrests it at the point where it has 
reached him, arrests it for his own honour and his own benefit, 
refusing to let it pass through him to its work on others. 

(1) Salt is most largely used as an antiseptic, for allaying 
corruption, and for stopping the effects of climate upon animal 
matter ; it is a preservative of sweetness and purity in that with 
' W. Coles-Finch, Water : its Origin amd Use, 167. 


which it is associated. So the presence of Christ's Church in the 
world, of a Christian man or woman in the smaller world of his or 
her own circle in society, is to be preservative : to allay corruption, 
to maintain life, to ward off decay and death, to uphold a standard 
of right, without which the world would be a far worse place than 
it is. 

^ " Ye " — Christians, ye that are lowly, serious, and meek ; ye 
that hunger after righteousness, that love God and man, that do 
good to all, and therefore suffer evil — "ye are the salt of the 
earth." It is your very nature to season whatever is round about 
you. It is the nature of the Divine savour which is in you to 
spread to whatsoever you touch ; to diffuse itself, on every side, 
to all those among whom you are. This is the great reason why 
the providence of God has so mingled you together with other 
men, that whatever grace you have received of God may through 
you be communicated to others; that every holy temper and 
word and work of yours may have an influence on them also. By 
this means a check will, in some measure, be given to the cor- 
ruption which is in the world ; and a small part, at least, saved 
from the general infection, and rendered holy and pure before 

(2) To put our Lord's comparison in its full relief, however, we 
must add the sacrificial use of salt in Hebrew worship as well as in 
the rites of heathen antiquity. No offering of cakes or vegetable 
produce was laid on Jehovah's altar saltless ; perhaps this season- 
ing was added even to animal sacrifices ; certainly it entered iuto 
the composition of the sacred incense. With all this in their 
minds, Jesus' audience could understand Him to mean no less 
than this, that His disciples were to act on society (Jewish 
society, of course, in the first place) as a moral preservative, 
keeping it from total decay, and fitting it to be an oblation, not 
distasteful, but acceptable, to Jehovah. The thought was far 
from a new one to the Hebrew mind. Eemembering how the 
world before the flood perished because " all flesh had corrupted 
his way," except one salt particle too minute to preserve the mass ; 
how ten men like Lot would have saved the cities of the lower 
Jordan ; how it marked the extreme ripeness to destruction of the 
Israel of Ezekiel's day, that even these three men, Noah, Daniel, 
and Job, had they been in it, could have delivered " neither son 

' John Wesley. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 13 105 

nor daughter " ; no Jew could miss the point of our Lord's words 
to His Twelve around Him, "Ye are the salt of the land." 
When He spoke, the corruption of His nation was extreme, as 
His own sermons show us ; and effete Judaism was fast ripening 
for its fall. 

(3) Salt gives relish to what would otherwise be tasteless or 
unpleasant; and Christ's people are, if we may so speak, the 
relishing element in the world, which prevents it from being 
loathsome altogether to the Lord. So Lot was in the cities of the 
plain the one savour which made them even so long endurable. 
There was not much salt in Lot ; but there was a little, there was 
a righteous soul that at least vexed itself because of the un- 
righteousness around it, if it did not do very much to arrest that 
unrighteousness. And because of Lot, God almost spared the 
place, would have spared it had there been only a few more like 
him, or had he been just a little truer than he was. Even so 
Christians are to be as salt to the earth, which, without them, 
would be in a manner loathsome, being so possessed with mean 
and base and ignoble souls. 

^ A king asked his three daughters how much they loved 
him. Two of them replied that they loved him better than all 
the gold and silver in the world. The youngest one said she 
loved him better than salt. The king was not pleased with her 
answer, as he thought salt was not very palatable. But the cook, 
overhearing the remark, put no salt in anything for breakfast 
next morning, and the meal was so insipid that the king could 
not enjoy it. He then saw the force of his daughter's remark. 
She loved him so well that nothing was good without him.^ 

(4) Salt does its work silently, inconspicuously, gradually. 
" Ye are the light of the world," says Christ in the next verse. 
Light is far-reaching and brilliant, flashing that it may be seen. 
That is one side of Christian work, the side that most of us like 
best, the conspicuous kind of it. But there is a very much 
humbler, and a very much more useful, kind of work that we have 
all to do. We shall never be the " light of the world," except on 
condition of being " the salt of the earth." We have to play the 
humble, inconspicuous, silent part of checking corruption by a 
pure example before we can aspire to play the other part of 

' A. C. Dixon, Through Night to Morning, 197. 


raying out light into the darkness, and so drawing men to Christ 

^ I was OQce travelling in an Oriental country, where life was 
squalid, women despised, and houses built of mud; and of a 
sudden, I came upon a village where all seemed changed. The 
houses had gardens before them and curtains in their windows ; 
the children did not beg of the passer-by, but called out a friendly 
greeting. What had happened ? I was fifty miles from a Chris- 
tian mission-station, and this mission had been there for precisely 
fifty years. Slowly and patiently the influence had radiated at 
the rate of a mile a year, so that one could now for a space of 
fifty miles across that barren land perceive the salt of the Chris- 
tian spirit, and could see the light of the Christian life shining as 
from a lighthouse fifty miles away. That was the work to which 
Jesus summoned the world, — not an ostentatious or revolutionary 
or dramatic work, but the work of the salt and of the light. The 
saying of Jesus is not for the self-satisfied or conspicuous, but for 
the discouraged and obscure. A man says to himself : " I cannot 
be a leader, a hero, or a scholar, but I can at least do the work of 
the salt and keep the life that is near to me from spoiling ; I can 
at least do the work of the light so that the way of life shall not 
be wholly dark." Then, as he gives himself to this self-effacing 
service, he hears the great word : " He that loseth his life for my 
sake shall find it," and answers gladly : " So then death worketh 
in us, but life in you." ^ 


The Salt without the Savour. 

"If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" 

1. Salt may lose its seasoning power. In Christ's era salt 
frequently reached the consumer in a very imperfect state, being 
largely mixed with earth. The salt which has lost its savour is 
simply the earthy residuum of such impure salt after the sodium 
chloride has been washed out. Blocks of salt were quarried on 
the shores of the Dead Sea and brought to Jerusalem, and a store 
of this rock-salt was kept by the Levites in the Temple to be 
used in the sacrifices. It was very impure — usually containing a 
large mixture of sand — and in moist weather the saline ingredient 
deliquesced and, trickling away, left the porous lump in its original 
^ F. G. PeaboJy, Mornings m the College Chapel, 11. 53. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 13 107 

shape, but all its substance, all its " savour " gone. For food it 
was no longer fit seasoning. Cast on the altar it would no longer 
decrepitate and sparkle, and in flowers of flaming violet adorn 
and consume the offering. Even the farmer did not care to get 
it. The gritty, gravelly mass was good for nothing — only fit to 
be pounded and sprinkled on the slippery pavement, and trodden 
under the feet of men. 

f I have often seen just such salt, and the identical disposition 
of it that our Lord has mentioned. A merchant of Sidon having 
farmed of the Government the revenue from the importation of 
salt, brought over an immense quantity from the marshes of 
Cyprus — enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for at least 
twenty years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat 
the Government out of some small percentage. Sixty- five houses 
in Jfine — Lady Stanhope's village — were rented and filled with 
salt. These houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next 
the ground in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities 
of it literally thrown into the street, to be trodden under foot of 
men and beasts. It was " good for nothing." Similar magazines 
are common in Palestine, and have been from remote ages ; and 
the sweeping out of the spoiled salt and casting it into the street 
are actions familiar to all men. Maundrell, who visited the lake 
at JebbM, tells us that he found salt there which had entirely 
"lost its savour," and the same abounds among the debris at 
Usdum, and in other localities of rock-salt at the south end of the 
Dead Sea. Indeed, it is a well-known fact that the salt of this 
country, when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and 
sun, does become insipid, and useless. From the manner in which 
it is gathered, much earth and other impurities are necessarily 
collected with it. Not a little of it is so impure that it cannot 
be used at all ; and such salt soon effloresces and turns to dust 
— not to fruitful soil, however. It is not only good for nothing 
itself, but it actually destroys all fertility wherever it is thrown ; 
and this is the reason why it is cast into the street. There is a 
sort of verbal verisimilitude in the manner in which our Lord 
alludes to the act — " it is cast out " and " trodden under foot " ; so 
troublesome is this corrupted salt, that it is carefully swept up, 
carried forth, and thrown into the street. There is no place 
about the house, yard, or garden where it can be tolerated. No 
man will allow it to be thrown on to his field, and the only place 
for it is the street ; and there it is cast, to be trodden under foot 
of men.^ 

' W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, chap, xxvi. 


2. What is a saltless Christian ? A saltless OhriBtian is one 
who has gone back to the earthly, the worldly, the carnal. The 
heavenly element is no longer in the ascendant; the salt has 
lost its savour. 

(1) One sign of deterioration is to be found in a lowered and 
attenuated ideal. Christ has little by little become almost a 
personal stranger. We do not seek His company, watch His eye, 
listen for His voice. The thought of Him does not send a thrill 
of joy into the heart. We have not renounced Him or consciously 
taken another Lord in His place. But we have lagged so far 
behind in the journey that He is quite out of our sight and reach. 
We can no more honestly say, as once we could say with a kind 
of rapture, " He is chief among ten thousand, and altogether 
lovely." It is the inevitable result from this changed relationship 
to Christ that the cross has dropped from our back (we did not 
feel it drop, nor do we miss it now that it is gone) ; there is 
nothing in our lives, or activities, or general profession, that is 
irksome or troublesome, compelling sacrifice, and earning joy. 
The world is apparently neither worse nor better for us. Keally 
it is worse. The candlestick is still iu its place, the candle is 
still feebly burning, but in a moment it may go out, and then 
where shall we be ? 

^ If you take a red-hot ball out of a furnace and lay it down 
upon a frosty moor, two processes will go on — the ball will lose 
heat and the surrounding atmosphere will gain it. There are two 
ways by which you equalize the temperature of a hotter and a 
colder body ; the one is by the hot one getting cold, and the other 
is by the cold one getting hot. If you are not heating the world, 
the world is freezing you. Every man influences all men round 
him, and receives influences from them ; and if there be not more 
exports than imports, if there be not more influences and mightier 
influences raying out from him than are coming into him, he is 
a poor creature, and at the mercy of circumstances. " Men must 
either be hammers or anvil " ; — must either give blows or receive 
them. I am afraid that a great many of us who call ourselves 
Christians get a great deal more harm from the world than we ever 
dream of doing good to it. Remember this, you are " the salt of 
the earth," and if you do not salt the world, the world will rot 

' A. Maclareu. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 13 109 

(2) Another sign of deterioration is a growing indifference to 
all great enterprise for Christ. Few things are more exhilarat- 
ing, more invigorating, more uplifting, more solemnizing, than a 
mighty gathering of Christian people, met, let i;s say, for a great 
missionary anniversary, to hear the glad tidings of the progress 
of the Eedeemer's kingdom, and to return to their homes, stirred, 
joyful, thankful. The man whose heart is cold to all this, 
sceptical about it, indifferent to it, and who yet looks back 
on days when every word spoken, every blow struck, every 
triumph won for Jesus, was a joy which few things else 
equalled, has good reason for asking himself what has happened 
to him to make the growth of the Kingdom of Christ so 
small and dull and unattractive and commonplace a thing. 
The change is assuredly not in the purpose of Jesus, or in 
the value of the soul, or in the duty of the Church, which 
is His Body. 

^ If, as can be reasonably argued, the historian may trace an 
increasing deterioration in the moral worth of Alexander Borgia 
from the period when the influence of Cesare at the Vatican 
replaced that of Juan, the fact has its obvious explanation. 
Eodrigo Borgia was a man of extraordinary vitality, with unusual 
reserves of power for his years. His energies had found their 
chief outlet in keen interest in the functions of his ofBce as he 
understood them. His sensual indulgences, however disreputable, 
were never the first preoccupation of his nature ; they were rather 
the surplusage of a virile temperament to which such interests as 
art, letters, or building made no serious appeal. In any position 
but that of the Vicar of Christ his excesses would have passed 
unremarked. If they weakened, as they undoubtedly did, his 
spiritual authority, they had hitherto scarcely detracted from the 
respect due to his political capacity. But in proportion as he 
surrendered his initiative in affairs and shared the control of 
policy, of finance, and of ecclesiastical administration with Cesare, 
the less worthy elements of his nature asserted themselves more 
forcibly. It was inevitable that in such a man abdication of 
responsibility should have this result, till in the end Alexander 
became a thoroughly evil man; evil, in that under guise of 
natural affection, in reality through cowardice, he allowed his 
authority, both spiritual and political, to be shamelessly exploited. 
Thus knowingly and without resistance Eodrigo Borgia steadily 
yielded to the worst impulses of his nature.^ 

' W. H. Woodward, Cesare Borgia, 136. 


3. When the salt has lost its savour it is good for nothing. 
There are some things, the chemist tells us, which, when they 
have lost their own peculiar form and utility, are still of some 
good, for they can be put to other and baser uses. But to what 
use can a dead Church be put ? You may try to galvanize it into 
newness of life by artificial means, but, after all, it is nothing 
more than a corpse. All that can be truly said of such an 
attempt is that it was an interesting experiment. A mere pro- 
fession of religion is either an embarrassment or, what is worse, 
a fatal delusion. This old world of ours has undergone many 
material changes during its existence, yet it has grown more and 
more beautiful, in spite of them, as the forces of evolution have 
unfolded themselves. But there is one change it could hardly 
survive as the habitation of man, and that is the lost conscious- 
ness of the presence and power of God with the people, or the 
loss of the sweetness and beauty of the Kedeemer of men as 
revealed in the lives of those faithful souls who sincerely love 
Him. For the Church which has lost its savour there will 
come a day when men, overwhelmed by their disappoint- 
ment, and maddened by their sense of its lost savour, will 
tear it to pieces, just as the enraged mob in Paris is said to 
have torn the fillet from Eeason's brow and trampled it under 
their feet. 

If the salt should lose its savour, if the regenerative force 
should die out of the Church — if there were a Church into which 
the spirit of the world had passed, a Church which had become 
assimilated by the world, a Church which had somehow learnt 
to speak the world's language and to justify the world's moraUty, 
and to echo the world's phrases, a Church which ate and drank 
at the world's table without the world becoming aware of any 
protest, or any discomfort, or any fear, a Church which, instead of 
awakening consciences, sent them to sleep, instead of exposing 
the world's plagues flattered them into excusing or forgetting 
them : in the name of God what use, or place, has such a Church 
on the face of the earth ? Such a Church has falsified the first 
law of its existence. It has killed out the very conscience which 
it was created to sustain. It has destroyed the very power of 
remedy from sin which it alone held in charge. It has poisoned 
the wells of human hope. " If the very salt have lost its savour. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 13 m 

wherewith shall it be salted ? It is thenceforth good for nothing, 
but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." 

Tf The really amazing thing is that such immense numbers of 
people have accepted Christianity in the world, and profess them- 
selves Christians without the slightest doubt of their sincerity, 
who never regard the Christian principles at all. The chief aim, 
it would seem, of the Church has been not to. preserve the original 
revelation, but to accommodate it to human instincts and desires. 
It seems to me to resemble the very quaint and simple old Breton 
legend, which relates how the Saviour sent the Apostles out to sell 
stale fish as fresh ; and when they returned unsuccessful, He was 
angry with them, and said, " How shall I make you into fishers of 
men, if you cannot even persuade simple people to buy stale fish 
for fresh ? " That is a very trenchant little allegory of ecclesiastical 
methods ! And perhaps it is even so that it has come to pass that 
Christianity is in a sense a failure, or rather an unfulfilled hope, 
because it has made terms with the world, has become pompous 
and respectable and mundane and infl.uential and combative, and 
has deliberately exalted civic duty above love.^ 

TJ Glanced over some lectures of Mr. Gore's on " The Mission 
of the Church." He tells a story of St. Thomas Aquinas which is 
new to me. The Pope said to him, as the bags full of the money 
of the faithful, who had crowded to the Jubilee, were carried past : 
" Peter could not say now, ' Silver and gold have I none.' " " No," 
was the reply, " neither could he say, ' Arise, and walk ! '" ^ 
' A. C. Benson, Joyous Gard, 197. 
" Sir M. E. Grant Duff, Notes from a Diary, 189S-1896, i. 138. 

A Conservative Reformer. 

ST. MATT. — 8 


Bellars (W.), Our Inheritance, 128. 

Campbell (L.), The Christian Ideal, 236. 

Chad wick (W. E.), SocialEelationships, 91. 

Dawson (G.), Hiree Books of God, 58. 

Drummond (R. J.), Faith's Certainties, 41. 

Holland (H. S.), Pleas and Claims, 292. 

Jones (J. C), Studies in the Gospel according to Matthew, 111. 

Lyttelton (E.), Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 125. 

McAfee (C. B.), Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 55. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew i.-viii., 199. 

Matheson (G.), Bests by the River, 147. 

„ „ Thoughts for Life's Journey, 51. 

Matthew (J.), The Law of Jehovah, 205. 
Meyer (F. B.), The Directory of the Devout Life, 47. 
Morison (J.), A Practical Commerda/ry on the Gospel according to 

St. Matthew, 67. 
Owen (J. W.), Some Australian Sermons, 88. 
Peabody (F. G.), Mornings in the College Chapel, i. 41. 
Hummer (A.), An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to 

St. Matthew, 74. 
Shuttleworth (H. C), in Lombard Street in Lent, 199. 
Smith (W. C), The Sermon on the Mount, 52. 
Southouse (A. J.), Men of the Beatitudes, 23. 
Tait (A.), The Charter of Christianity, 129. 
Thome (H.), Notable Sayings of the Great Teacher, 54. 
Watson (J.), The Inspiration of Our Faith, 147. 
Wilson (J. M.), in The Anglican Pulpit of To-Day, 356. 
British Weekly Pulpit, iii. 468 (A. F. Kirkpatrick). 


A Conservative Reformer. 

Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets : I came 
not to destroy, but to fulfil. — Matt. v. 17. 

Christ, the new Prophet and Teacher, has gone up upon the 
Mount and is about to speak to the people. He is sitting down 
to preach. The villages will be empty soon, for the news has 
gone abroad and great excitement has seized the people. What 
new thing will He tell them? What daring message is this 
Revolutionary about to give them ? They throng the slopes ; 
they hang upon His words ; there is the silence of a great expecta- 
tion upon the multitude. And Christ begins to preach. What is 
His subject ? What is He saying ? 

Not a syllable about what they called religion, law, and 
Sabbath, and temple worship, and fasts; simply the Beati- 
tudes, the inner virtues of the heart, the duty to show light. He 
moves the conscience of the people by bringing them straight into 
the presence of their Father. He recalls them to the conscious- 
ness of God, whom they are forgetting. His words move them as 
nothing had ever moved them before. They feel for an instant 
the pressure and the nearness of God Himself. At such a moment, 
in presence of a higher religion, what to them were law, and 
ceremonial, and priest ? The murmur goes round that old things 
have passed away ; it is a new world ; away with remnants of 
exploded superstition and bygone forms of worship ! It is to meet 
this inarticulate thought that Christ stops and says, " Think not 
that I came to destroy the law or the prophets : I came not to 
destroy, but to fulfil." There is to be entire continuity with the 

With absolute decisiveness He states the purpose of His 
coming. He knows the meaning of His own work, which so few 
of us do, and it is safe to take His own account of what He intends, 
as we so seldom do. His opening declaration is singularly com- 


posed of blended humility and majesty. Its humility lies in His 
placing Himself, as it were, in line with previous messengers, and 
representing Himself as carrying on the sequence of Divine revela- 
tion. It would not have been humble for anybody but Him to 
say that, but it was so for Him. Its majesty lies in His claim to 
" fulfil " all former utterances from God. 

^ My love of, and trust in, our Lord, after I had seen Him in 
a vision, began to grow, for my converse with Him was so con- 
tinual. I saw that, though He was God, He was man also ; that 
He is not surprised at the frailties of men, that He understands 
our miserable nature, liable to fall continually, because of the 
first sin, for the reparation of which He had come. I could speak 
to Him as to a friend, though He is my Lord. ... my Lord ! 
my King ! who can describe Thy Majesty ? It is impossible 
not to see that Thou art Thyself the great Euler of all, that the 
beholding of Thy Majesty fills men with awe. But I am filled 
with greater awe, my Lord, when I consider Thy humility, and 
the love Thou hast for such as I am. We can converse and speak 
with Thee about everything whenever we will ; and when we lose 
our first fear and awe at the vision of Thy Majesty, we have a 
greater dread of offending Thee, — not arising out of the fear of 
punishment, my Lord, for that is as nothing in comparison 
with the loss of Thee ! ^ 


Christ the Eevolutionaet. 

After the multitude had heard those wonderful teachings con- 
tained in the Beatitudes, most of which were new and startHng, 
one might well suppose that the question uppermost in every 
heart would be. Are those laws and institutions which have lasted 
for two thousand years now to undergo complete change — are 
they to be superseded by those precepts which we have now just 
heard propounded by this Great Teacher, who seems to be the 
rounder of an entirely new law; for what Jewish Eabbi ever 
gave utterance to such precepts as the proclaiming of blessedness 
to the poor in spirit, the meek, the humble, the mourning, the 
persecuted ? In the text the Saviour corrects this view. 
' The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (trans, by D. Lewis), 367. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 17 117 

1. " Think not," He says, " that I came to destroy." It is 
noticeable at once that Christ uses a word for " destroy " which 
seems to be merely an echo of some confused popular sayings 
about the Messiah. It is indeed not easy to state clearly what is 
meant by destroying a law or a set of laws, still less easy to say 
what would be the meaning of " destroying the prophets." Laws 
may no doubt be repealed, but it is not conceivable that any clear- 
headed man anticipated that the Messiah would repeal the Ten 
Commandments, or was going to forbid the Old Testament to be 
read. Strictly speaking, this is the only rational sense which 
attaches itself to the words. It is probable that Christ was here 
merely putting on one side a rough popular description of the 
r&le which He was supposed to be going to play. 

^ It is not obvious at first sight what Christ means by " fulfil- 
ling the law." He does not mean taking the written law as it 
stands, and literally obeying it. That is what He condemns, not 
as wrong, but as wholly inadequate. He means rather, starting 
with it as it stands, and bringing it on to completeness ; working 
out the spirit of it ; getting at the comprehensive principles which 
underlie the narrowness of that letter. These the Messiah sets 
forth as the essence of the revelation made by God through the 
Law and the Prophets. Through them He has revealed His will, 
and it is impossible that His Son should attempt to pull down or 
undo this revelation of the Father's will, or that His will, in the 
smallest particular, should fail of fulfilment. It is not the Law 
or the Prophets that Jesus proposes to abolish, but the traditional 
misinterpretations of these authorities. To destroy these mis- 
interpretations is to open the way for the fulfilment of the Law 
and the Prophets ; and He thus substituted free development of 
spiritual character for servile obedience to oppressive rules.^ 

2. To destroy — that is the creed of the revolutionary. In the 
French Eevolution, Eobespierre and his confederates went so far 
as to obliterate the septennial division of time, insisting that the 
week should consist of ten rather than seven days. New names 
were affixed to the days, to the streets, and to the officials of the 
State, But it was not thus that Christ inaugurated His work. He 
answered the thoughts of His age, saying, " Think not that I came 
to destroy." Every "jot and tittle ' of the ancient code was dear 
to Him. Jesus was no iconoclast. 

' A. Plummer. 


3. For there is nothing to be gained by destruction. There are 
men who think that the best means of heralding the new dawn is 
to fling a bomb into a crowd of harmless people. There are those 
who believe, with Bakunin, that the only way to regenerate 
society is to wipe it out by utter destruction, on the supposition 
that a new and better order will surely be evolved out of chaos. 
It never has been so, and it never can be so. Such methods can 
only delay the advance of progress. You can, indeed, cast out 
devils by Beelzebub. You cannot keep them out; only angels 
can do that. " His kingdom shall not stand " ; for by fulfilment, 
not by destruction, the old passes into the new. 

^ Carlyle could not reverence Voltaire, but he could not hate 
him. How could he hate a man who had fought manfully against 
injustice in high places, and had himself many a time in private 
done kind and generous actions ? To Carlyle, Voltaire was no 
apostle charged with any divine message of positive truth. Even 
in his crusade against what he believed to be false, Voltaire was 
not animated with a high and noble indignation. He was simply 
an instrument of destruction, enjoying his work with the pleasure 
of some mocking imp, yet preparing the way for the tremendous 
conflagration which was impending. In the earlier part of his 
career Carlyle sympathized with and expected more from the 
distinctive functions of revolution than he was able to do after 
longer experience. , " I thought," he once said to me, " that it was 
the abolition of rubbish. I find it has been only the kindling of 
a dunghill. The dry straw on the outside burns off; but the 
huge damp rotting mass remains where it was." ^ 

If " Think not (comp. iii. 9, x. 34) that I came to destroy the 
law or the prophets." Such an expression implies that Christ 
knew that there was danger of the Jews thinking so, and possibly 
that some had actually said this of Him. The Pharisees would 
be sure to say it. He disregarded the oral tradition, which they 
held to be equal in authority to the written Law; and He in- 
terpreted the written Law according to its spirit, and not, as they 
did, according to the rigid letter. Above all. He spoke as if He 
Himself were an authority, independent of the Law. Even some 
of His own followers may have been perplexed, and have thought 
that He proposed to supersede the Law. They might suppose 
" that it was the purpose of His mission simply to break down 
restraints, to lift from men's shoulders the duties which they felt 
as burdens. The law was full of commandments ; the Prophets 
' J. A. Froude, Thomas Cwrlyle, 1795-18S5, ii. 54. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 17 119 

were full of rebukes and warnings. Might not the mild new Eabbi 
be welcomed as one come to break down the Law and the Prophets, 
and so lead the way to less exacting ways of life ? This is the 
delusion which our Lord set Himself to crush. The gospel of the 
Kingdom was not a gospel of indulgence " (Hort, Judaistic Chris- 
tianity, 15). He was not a fanatical revolutionary, but a Divine 
Restorer and Reformer.^ 


Christ the Conservee. 

If Christ is not to destroy the law and the prophets, what then 
is He to do with this old faith of the Jews ? How is He to treat 
this partial, this imperfect, faith which is already on the ground ? 
He may do either of two things. He may destroy or He may 
preserve. With the most deliberate wisdom He chooses one method 
and rejects the other. To the conservative, Christ comes with 

1. Nothing of the old that is valuable or strong shall be lost. 
Examine the new, and we shall find the old at the heart of it. 
Study the channel where the new current is running and we shall 
find the water of the old channel there. That is a very suggestive 
fact ; it appears everywhere. Study the real forward movement 
of thought and we shall find it true. There will always be petty 
disturbances, offshoots here and there which have no reference 
to the real advance of thought ; they may cut loose from the old 
truth, but they are short-lived and passing. In the main move- 
ments, down the main stream, the old is never lost. 

^ An American missionary in Japan, Dr. S. L. Gulick, writes 
thus : " The Christian preacher should constantly take the ground 
that every good teaching in the native faith is a gift of God the 
Pather of all men, and is a preparation for the coming of His 
fuller revelation in Jesus Christ. We should show our real and 
deep respect for the ' heathen ' religions ; we should take off our 
hats at their shrines, as we expect them to do in our churches. 
We should ever insist that Christianity does not come to destroy 
anything that is good or true in the native faiths, but rather to 
stimulate, to strengthen, and fulfil it — to give it life and real 
energy. The trouble with the native religions is not that they 

' A. Pliimmer. 


possess no truth, but that the truth they have is so mixed up with 
folly and superstition that it is lost ; it has no power — no life-giving 
energy." ^ 

2. Nothing is to be remitted — no rule of purity, no necessity 
of righteousness. How can it be, when we are brought, by enter- 
ing this Kingdom, nearer to God, who must be of purer eyes than 
to behold iniquity ? No slackening of the spiritual code is possible, 
is conceivable. To suppose this is to mistake all the meaning of 
mercy, all the purpose of pardon. Let no one make such a dis- 
astrous blunder. " Think not that I came to destroy the law or 
the prophets : I came not to destroy, but to fulfil." 

^ " Think not that I will dispense with any of the rules of 
morality, prescribed by Moses, and explained by the prophets," is 
Blair's rendering of this verse. " I came not to destroy, but to 
fulfil " (both the law and the prophets) : " To fulfil," that is, to 
render full obedience to those great commandments (see ver. 19) 
which it is the pre-eminent aim of the Scriptures to inculcate 
and enforce. Jesus came to render this full obedience in His own 
person, and also to secure that it should be rendered increasingly, 
and ever increasingly, in the persons of His disciples, the subjects 
of His Kingdom. It is this latter idea that was prominently in 
His mind on the present occasion, as is evident from the 19th and 
20th verses. He came, not to introduce licence and licentious- 
ness into His Kingdom, but to establish holiness. Some exposi- 
tors suppose that the word " fulfil " means to supplement or 
perfect ; and they imagine that Christ is here referring to His 
legislative authority. But such an interpretation of the term is 
at variance with verses 18 and 19, and with its use in kindred 
passages, such as Eom. xiii. 8, Gal. v. 14. Theophylact, among 
other interpretations, says that Christ fulfilled the law as a 
painter fills up the sketch of his picture. But it is a different 
"full-filling" that is referred to. When commandments are 
addressed to us, they present, as it were, empty vessels of duty, 
which our obedience is to " fill full." " 

3. The Old Testament is not as it were the scaffolding neces- 
sary for the erection of the Christian Church, needing to be taken 
down in order that the full symmetry and beauty of the building 
may be seen, and only to be had recourse to from time to time 
when repairs are needed. It is an integral part of the structure. 

' World Missionary Conference, 1910: Report of Commission IF., 95, 
' J. Morison. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 17 121 

Te are " built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 
Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone." How could 
it be otherwise ? we ask with reverence. It was God who spoke 
" through the prophets," it is God who speaks " in a Son." Every 
Divine word must be of eternal import. God's truth does not 
vary ; there is no mutability of purpose in the eternal present of 
the Divine mind. 

The Old Testament leads us up to Christ, and Christ takes it 
and puts it back into our hands as a completed whole. He bids 
us study it as " fulfilled in him," and " put ourselves to school with 
every part of it." The old lesson-book is not to be thrown away 
or kept as an archaeological curiosity ; it is to be re-studied in this 
fresh light of further knowledge. 

^ The "rrXfipiaais of the law and the prophets is their fulfilment 
by the re-establishment of their absolute meaning, so that now 
nothing more is wanting to what they ought to be in accordance 
with the Divine ideas which lie at the foundation of their 
commands. It is the perfect development of their ideal reality 
out of the positive form, in which the same is historically appre- 
hended and limited. . . . Luther well says : " Christ is speaking 
of the fulfilment, and so deals with doctrines, in like manner as 
He calls ' destroying ' a not acting with works against the law, but 
a breaking off from the law with the doctrine." The fulfilling is 
"showing the right kernel and understanding, that they may 
learn what the law is and desires to have." The Apostle Paul 
worked quite in the sense of our passage ; his writings are full of 
the fulfilment of the law in the sense in which Christ means it ; 
and his doctrine of its abrogation refers only to its validity for 
justification to the exclusion of faith. Paul did not advance 
beyond this declaration, but he applied his right understanding 
boldly and freely, and in so doing the breaking up of the old form 
by the new spirit could not but necessarily begin, as Jesus Him- 
self clearly recognized (cf. ix. 16 ; John iv. 21, 23 f.) and set forth 
to those who believed in His own person and His completed 
righteousness. But even in this self-representation of Christ the 
new principle is not severed from the Old Testament piety, but 
is the highest fulfilment of the latter, its anti-typical consumma- 
tion, its realized ideal. Christianity itself is in so far a law.^ 

» H. A. W. Meyer. 



Christ the Fulfillee. 

Continuity with the old is part of Christ's teaching. He came 
to conserve. But He came to do more than that — infinitely 
more than that. He came also to fulfil. " To fulfil." Do we not 
often limit the idea of " fulfilment " to what are called the typical 
and prophetic parts of the Old Testament, and regard the ful- 
filment as just the counterpart of the type or prediction, as 
the reality of which only the reflection had hitherto been visible ? 
But "fulfilment" is far more than this. It is the completion 
of what was before imperfect; it is the realization of what was 
shadowy; it is the development of what was rudimentary; 
it is the union and reconciliation of what was isolated and 
disconnected ; it is the full growth from the antecedent germ. 

1. Christ fulfilled the law. — The law (nJ/ioj) is not to be 
restricted here to the Decalogue ; it is to be taken in its more 
extended signification as denoting the entire law. The moral 
law was an expression of the mind of God, of God's moral nature 
— a revelation, or rather expansion, of the law of nature which He 
originally wrote in the heart of man. Sin blinded men to such 
an extent that it was necessary to have the law promulgated ; 
hence God wrote it on two tables of stone. And it stood as a 
public warning against sin, and as a standard of moral duty. It 
disclosed wants that it was incapable of satisfying, it aggravated 
the evil it could not heal ; and, compelling men to see their own 
weakness, it taught them to look forward to One who would be 
capable of fulfilling all its demands. This is the " fulfilling " of 
which Christ speaks, the completion of that which for two 
thousand years had been imperfect and ineffectual. " Christ ful- 
filled the law and the prophets," says Bishop Wordsworth, " by 
obedience, by accomplishment of types, ceremonies, rites, and 
prophecies, and by explaining, spiritualizing, elevating, enlarging, 
and perfecting the moral law, by writing it on the heart, and by 
giving grace to obey it, as well as an example of obedience by 
taking away its curse ; and by the doctrine of free justification 

ST, MATTHEW v. 17 123 

by faith in Himself, which the law prefigured and anticipated, 
but could not give." 

Let us look shortly at three main ways in which Christ ful- 
filled the law. 

(1) Christ fulfilled the law hy meeting its requirements. — From 
first to last the life of our Lord was the fulfilment, in spirit and 
letter, of the ancient ritual. As a son of the law. He obeyed 
the initial rite of Judaism on the eighth day after birth, and there 
was no item of the law, even to the dots of the i's or the crossing 
of the t's, which He omitted or slurred. He died for our sine 
according to the Scriptures, and He rose again the third day 
according to the Scriptures. What could be only partially true 
of His Apostle was literally true of the Lord: as touching the 
righteousness which is of the law. He was found blameless. Our 
Lord fulfilled the ceremonial law and fulfilled the moral law, 
since He was Jesus Christ "the Eighteous." He honoured the 
law by His obedience " even to death," atoning for its breach and 
violation by mankind, and giving, through His unknown sufferings 
an answer to its just dues and demands, such as could not have 
been afforded though the whole race had been mulcted to the 
uttermost farthing of penal consequences. His fulfilment, there- 
fore, was not for Himself alone, but as the second Adam, the 
representative man, and for us all. 

(2) Christ fulfilled the law ly spiritualizing it. — Were we to 
enter a room in the early morning where a company were sitting or 
drowsing, with sickly hue, by the dull glimmer of candles, which 
never had given a sufficient light, and were now guttering, 
neglected, and burning down to the socket, we would not think 
we were destroying the light by flinging open the casement, and 
letting in the clear sunshine upon them. We would, on the 
contrary, feel that by this process alone could they get the full 
light which they needed. Now, much in the same way the Lord 
Jesus came into the world, and found there, as it were, the old 
seven-branched candlestick of the tabernacle still burning, though 
dim and low, for it was not well trimmed in those neglectful 
years; found there the old law of Moses, moral, ceremonial, 
and judicial, still recognized, though a good deal obscured by 
traditions; and what He did was to purify and spiritualize the 
law. He opened upon it the windows of His spirit, illumining its 


every part, showing its perfection and comprehensiveness. Other 
teachers had taken the law, the law as it stood, and had so dealt 
with it as to present it in all its bareness and outwardness, its 
narrowness and burdensomeness ; Jesus Christ took the same law, 
the law as it stood, but He so dealt with it as to present it in all 
its fulness and inwardness, its breadth and goodness. 

(3) Christ fulfilled the law hy generalizing it. — He broke down 
all class distinctions in morality. Heathenism divided mankind 
into two classes, the learned and the ignorant, and between these 
two it erected a high partition walL These distinctions, though 
discountenanced in Jewish law, were admitted in Jewish practice. 
" This people who knoweth not the law are cursed." Christ boldly 
demolished the wall of partition built high and broad between the 
cultured and the illiterate. He entered the granary of Divine 
truth, took out the golden grain, and scattered it broadcast on the 
face of the common earth. The truths of the favoured few He 
made the common property of the uncultured many. He alone 
of all His contemporaries or predecessors perceived the intrinsic 
worth and vast possibilities of the human soul. 

Christ also broke down all national distinctions in morality. 
The intense nationalism of the Jews in the time of the Saviour 
is proverbial ; they surrounded sea and land to make one proselyte. 
Instead of trying to make Judaism commensurate with the world, 
they tried to make the world commensurate with Judaism. How- 
ever, Jewish morality here, as in every other instance, was superior 
to contemporaneous pagan morality. Notwithstanding its intense 
nationalism, Judaism always inculcated kindness to strangers. 
" The stranger within thy gates " — the recurrence of that phrase 
in the Mosaic ethics lifts them above all other ancient ethics 
whatever. What Moses only began, Jesus Christ beautifully 
perfected. He made morality absolutely human. It is no longer 
Greek under obligation to Greek, but man under obligation to 
man. What the Greek poet only momentarily conceived, Jesus 
Christ has converted into a powerful element in modern civiUza- 
tion — " I also am a man, and nothing human is foreign to me." 

^ Jesus felt Himself called of God to a lot within the chosen 
people, because He was Himself the culmination of the revelation 
made to them in the past. As that revelation had been through 
a special nation, so it had to complete itself there. That He 

ST. MATTHEW v. 17 125 

Himself lived within the limits of Judaism was not a confession 
that He was merely the crown of a national or racial faith, but 
rather the vindication of the older religion as an inherent part of 
a world-revelation. It was not the lowering of His message to 
the particularism of the Jewish religion, but the elevation of the 
latter into a universal significance first fully revealed in Him. 
The problem which Jesus had to solve was not the destruction of 
Judaism, but its consummation, the liberation of its spiritual 
content from the restrictions of its form. That He should have 
indicated the supersession of Jewish privilege is not at all un- 
likely ; but manifestly this could not be His usual or character- 
istic tone, if He were to implant in Jewish minds the germs of 
His wider faith. He had largely to put Himself in their place, and 
work through the forms of their thought. Primarily, therefore, 
His universalism had to be implicit. He did not so much give 
them new religious terms as fill the old terms with a new mean- 
ing and reference. Hence it was only after He had at least 
partly accomplished this in the ease of a chosen circle of followers, 
and attached them unalterably to Himself, that He spoke openly 
and frequently of the larger issues of His gospel, and the in- 
gathering of the " nations." Jesus saw that if He were to con- 
serve the eternal element in the Jewish religion. He must work 
within its lines. He broke, indeed, with the existing authorities, 
but only because He maintained that they misrepresented it. 
The principle on which He acted, as regards both the teaching of 
His ministry and the subsequent development of His Church, 
was to sow germinal truths which could come to maturity only 
through the reaction . of individual thought, and the enlarging 
of experience. Therefore, whUe He did not leave the dis- 
ciples wholly without plain announcements of the universality 
of His mission. He did not so emphasize this as to impair 
their confidence in the imity and continuity of the old and the 
new faiths.^ 

2. Christ fulfilled the prophets. — We are familiar with the idea 
of the " fulfilment " of prophecy, though that idea is often unduly 
limited. Prophecy is not " inverted history " : it was not a re- 
flection beforehand by which men could foreknow what was to 
come : it was but as the seed out of which plant and flower and 
fruit were to be developed. Prophecy kept men's eyes fixed upon 
the future ; it created a sense of need, it stirred deep and earnest 
longings ; it stimulated hope. And then the fulfilment gathered 

1 D. W. Forrest, The Christ of History and of Mcperience, 418. 


into one unimagined reality all the various lines of thought and 
longing and hope, in a completeness far transcending all anticipa- 
tion. The fulfilment could not have been conjectured from the 
prophecy, but it answers to it, and shows the working of the one 
Divine purpose, unhasting, unresting, to its final goal of man's 

The prophets' great teachings were all centred round the 
figure of the Deliverer of the future. There were three things 
concerning the person and work of this Messiah upon which they 
laid special emphasis. 

(1) The Messiah was to be humble in the circumstances of His 
life. — His birthplace. His lowly outward condition, His having no 
visible grandeur to attract the world's eye, had all been noted by 
the pen of inspiration. If He had been born in any other place 
than Bethlehem, if He had appeared as a rich Prince instead of 
being the son of a poor family, there would have been reason to 
say that the words of Scripture were against Him ; for it was 
prophesied regarding Him, " Thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though 
thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall 
he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel ; whose goings 
forth have been from of old, from everlasting." 

^ Christian religion beginneth not at the highest, as other 
religions do, but at the lowest. It will have us to climb up by 
Jacob's ladder, whereupon God Himself leaneth, whose feet touch 
the very earth, hard by the head of Jacob. Eun straight to the 
manger, and embrace this Infant, the Virgin's little babe, in thine 
arms; and behold Him as He was born, nursed, grew up, was 
conversant amongst men ; teaching ; dying ; rising again ; ascend- 
ing up above all the heavens, and having power over all things. 
This sight and contemplation will keep thee in the right way, 
that thou mayest follow whither Christ hath gone.^ 

(2) But the Messiah was to be great in His person. — He was 
to be of high origin, though He was to take up a lowly position 
on earth. It was said of Him by one of the prophets. His 
"goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." These 
words intimated that He who was afterwards to appear in 
human nature for the deliverance of His people had lived from 
the beginning, from eternity. The prophet Isaiah had also said 
with reference to Him, " Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is 

' Luther, Cormneniary on the Oalaticms, 102. 

ST. MATTHEW v. 17 127 

given : and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The 
Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." 

H The Jews took great offence, we read, because Jesus, being a 
man, called Himself the Son of God. But did not the Scriptures, 
which they professed to follow, speak of the Messiah as both God 
and man ? If He had claimed less He would not have been the 
Deliverer promised to their fathers. And were the actions of 
Jesus inconsistent with His high claim ? When He gave sight to 
the blind, and hearing to the deaf, and speech to the dumb, and 
life to the dead by a word, did He not show that He indeed was 
what the prophet Isaiah had said the Messiah at His coming 
should be, " The Mighty God " ? 1 

(3) He was also to accomplish a matchless work. — He was to 
bruise the head of the serpent ; or, as this first announcement is 
explained again and again in the prophecies which follow, and 
particularly in the prophecies of Daniel, He was " to finish trans- 
gression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation 
for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." He was 
to take away the sins of men which separated them from God, to 
put an end to the commission of sin, and to bring in the reign of 
, righteousness for ever. He was in consequence called by the 
prophets in other places " the Lord our righteousness." Jesus de- 
clared when He was upon the earth that this was to be the great 
purpose of His mission. " The Son of man," He said, " came not 
to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a 
ransom for many." He came to take away all burdens and all 
troubles by taking away sin, which is the cause of them all. 
" Come unto me," He said, " all ye that labour and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest." And with reference to all that 
come unto Him, He says, ''I give unto them eternal life; and 
they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my 

T[ In St. Paul, Christ is the Deliverer from sins in the past ; 
He is the Defender against sins in the future. God's love in 
Christ is emphatically that which delivers the wretched man, 
beaten in all his endeavours to free himself from the body of this 
death of sin : it is that which has done through Christ what the 
law could not do, enabled the righteousness of the law to be ful- 
filled in His redeemed. Over St. Paul's mind there ever seems to 
1 G. S. Smith, Victory Over Sin and Death, 21. 


be resting the shadow of the memory of the past ; he remembers 
how wrong he once went, what a terrible mistake he made. And 
he remembers how, not by any reflection, not by any study of his 
own, but by the direct influence of Christ Himself, he first learned 
how fearfully wrong he was. Hence throughout his life there is 
present to him a sense of his own weakness. Yet while these 
thoughts sometimes come across him, and make him more eagerly 
watchful over all that he does, nothing can shake his firm per- 
suasion that " neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, 
nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us 
from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord." To him 
Christ is emphatically the power which wipes out the past, and 
which upholds the soul, the power which alone can preserve us 
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose 
strength is made perfect in our weakness, who shall one day 
"change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his 
glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even 
to subdue all things unto himself." ^ 

1 Archbishop Temple. 

The Lord's Prayer. 

ST. MATT. — 9 


Aked (C. F.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Cohu (J. E.), Our Father. 

Dearmer (P.), in Churchmamship and Labour, 226. 

Dods (M.), The Prayer that Teaches to Pray. 

Eyton (R.), The LorSls Prayer. 

Farrar (F, W.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Gibbon (J. M.), The Disciples' Prayer. 

Gore (C), Prayer and the Lord's Prayer, 30. 

Goulburn (E. M.), The Lord!s Prayer. 

Hall (N.), The Lord's Prayer : A Practical Meditation, 

Hare (A. W.), Sermons on the Lord's Prayer. 

Jones (J. D.), The Model Prayer. 

Jones (E. M.), The Double Search, 94. 

Jowett (B.), Sermons on Faith and Doctrine, 250. 

Lowrie (W.), .466a, Father. 

McFadyen (J. E.), The Prayers of the Bible, 132. 

Maurice (F. D.), The Pra/yer-Book and the Lord's Prayer. 

Miller (J. E.), The Golden Gate of Prayer. 

Milligan (G.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Richards (W. E.), A Study of the Lord's Prayer. 

Roberts (J. E.), Studies in the Lord's Prayer. 

Eoss (C. B.), Our Father's Kingdom. 

Ross (G. A. J.), The Universality of Jesus, 129. 

Ruskin (J.), The Lord's Prayer and the Church. 

Sapliir (A.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Scbenck (F. S.), The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. 

Stanford (C.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Stubbs (C. W.), The Social Teaching of the Lords Prayer. 

Vaughan (C. J.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Waddy (J. T.), The Lord's Prayer. 

Watt (L. M.), God's Altar Stairs. 

Wells (J.), The Children's Prayer. 

Wilberforce (B.), Sanctification by the Truth, 189. 

Wordaworth (E.), Thoughts on the Lord's Prayer. 

Woiiledge (A. J.), Prayer, 160. 


The LORD'S Prayer, 

After this manner therefore pray ye. — Matt. vi. 9. 

1. The Lord's Prayer has been the type of prayer among Christians 
in all ages. Throughout the Christian centuries men have poured 
forth their hearts to God in these few words, which have probably 
had a greater influence on the world than all the writings of 
theologians put together. They are the simplest form of com- 
munion with Christ : when we utter them we are one with Him ; 
His thoughts become our thoughts, and we draw near to God 
through Him. They are also the simplest form of communion 
with our fellow-men, in which we acknowledge that He is our 
common Father and that we are His children. And the least 
particulars of our lives admit of being ranged under one or other 
of the petitions which we offer up to Him. 

2. It has not only become the one universal prayer of 
Christendom; it has appealed to and has been adopted by the 
most enlightened exponents of other faiths. This result is all 
the more astounding if, as some scholars have declared, no single 
petition of the prayer was in the strict sense " original," the 
startling originality being in the structure of the prayer. Within 
the narrow framework of an utterance containing only peti- 
tions, Jesus has gathered all the deepest necessities of the col- 
lective and of the individual life of mankind, and has so knit 
together and built up these petitions in orderly sequence that 
the prayer as a whole appeals to men everywhere, and remains 
to any man who will thoughtfully use it a liberal education in 
sympathy with mankind and in understanding the character of 

^ In his " Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude," 
Thomas Gray endeavoured to impress on an age of indifference 
the priceless value of the daily earthly blessings which we receive, 



too often without a thought of their beauty, and healthfulness, 
and joy, without a word of gratitude to Him who gives and sus- 
tains, without one real expression of prayer that we may conse- 
crate them more entirely to His service. He describes the 
feelings of one who, after a long and painful illness, finds himself 
at last able to leave his room, and move once more amid familiar 
sights and sounds which, in a normal state of health, scarcely 
excite attention : 

See the "Wretch, that long has tost 

On the stormy bed of Pain, 
At length repair his vigour lost 

And breathe and walk again; 
The meanest flowret of the vale, 
The simplest note that swells the gale, 
The common Sun, the air, the skies. 
To him are opening Paradise. 

In the spiritual world there are blessings like " the common sun, 
the air, the skies," the priceless value of which in regard to com- 
munion with God in Christ, the conscious sense of the Divine 
presence, the formation of character, and control of conduct, we 
for the most part hardly estimate until we find ourselves deprived 
of them, or unable to make use of them. Among such blessings, 
inestimable, yet taken as a matter of course, is the gift of the 
Lord's Prayer.^ 

(1) To begin with, a man is bidden postpone the outpouring 
of his private needs till he has related himself aright to the needs 
of the world : the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are 
"missionary" intercessions, which, when a man begins to use, 
at once narrowness and possible selfishness of outlook are checked, 
and the sympathies spread out to take in the wants that lie 
deepest in the life of universal man. " Our Father which art 
in heaven. Hallowed be thy name" — hallowed, that is, the 
whole world over. What a sweep of intercessory affection, what 
enlightening recollection of what the world most truly needs, 
what readjustment to fraternal fellowship of desire lies behind 
the intelligent use of this petition alone ! It means that one 
sees, instructed by Christ, that the profoundest necessity for the 
broken and sundered lives of our race is reunion in spiritual 
religion, in one universal reverence to one worthy thought of 
God; and to go on intelligently to pray, "Thy kingdom come: 
' A. J. Worlledge, Prayer, 160, 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 133 

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," is to desire (and 
surely also to be moved to work for) the reorganizing of man's 
broken life on the basis of a universal subordination to God, 
orderly and loyal, because willing, enlightened, and free. Think 
of the power that lies in a series of intercessions like that to 
educate the intercessor in the true meaning and inwardness of the 
history behind him and being made around him ! Think of its 
stores of impulse to a cosmopolitan outlook, its potent force as a 
solvent of the parochial spirit ! And then think of the range and 
depth of the insight of the "Galilsean peasant" who thus per- 
ceived and read the universal needs of man ! How came He to 
have those eyes which, like the eyes of God, "are over all the 
earth " ? 

^ In each petition we ask to be blessed with God Himself. 
In each petition we therefore see the Trinity, while one Person of 
the Trinity is more prominently brought forward. The name is 
the Son revealing the Father; the kingdom is the Father beheld 
and loved in the Son ; the will renewed is the Holy Ghost f ul- 
filhng in us what the Father ordains and Christ mediates. In 
these three petitions there is no sequence — they are co-equal, 
co-ordinate — hence there is no conjunction.^ 

(2) The remaining four petitions of the prayer are no less 
marvellous as a transcript of the cry of the world-wide heart of 
man. " Give us this day our daily bread " — give us, for we can 
neither manufacture nor for very long so much as store the raw 
material of life's nourishment. " Forgive us our debts " — forgive, 
for we can neither pay for, expiate, nor endure unexpiated, the 
irreparable past. "Lead us not into temptation" — for life is 
beset with risk as well as opportunity. " Deliver us from evil " 
— for that is the deep-set root of all woes. Is it not the unani- 
mous voice of mankind that sighs through these petitions ? Has 
there ever been so perfect, so adequate an articulation of the 
murmur of the hungering world-soul ? Is prayer for more than 
this prayer includes essential? Would prayer for less be less 
than vicious ? Men vary in their power of calling up from the 
subconscious region the thoughts and sympathies that wander to 
the farthest frontiers of personality and seem to travel even 
beyond; but this is more than telepathy in excelsis: it is a 
^ Adolph Saphir, The Lord's Prayer, 58. 


knowledge of universal man gathering itself in such a way within 
the compass of a single mind that the inference is irresistible that 
this Man's consciousness was more than "individual," and that 
these things He had learned in some residence in G-od antedating 
His residence on earth. The vast sweep of the Lord's Prayer, and 
its astounding grasp of what is deepest in the necessities of the 
world in every age, go far to make credible even the saying attri- 
buted to Christ in the Fourth Gospel, " Before Abraham was, I 

^ Of symbolical numbers in Scripture, there are none whose 
meaning is so certain and obvious as the numbers three, four, and 
seven. Three is the number of God, as in the threefold blessing 
which the high priest pronounced, the threefold "holy" in the 
song of the seraphim, and in various passages. The mystery, most 
clearly expressed in the institution of baptism and throughout the 
Epistles, is contained in germ in all the manifestations of God 
unto His people. The number four is evidently the number of 
the world, of the manifold mundane relationship of creation in 
its fulness and variety. This symbolism finds its expression in 
nature — the four directions in space, the four corners of the earth, 
the four winds, from which all the elect shall be gathered. It is 
to be noticed in the Tabernacle, the measures, curtains, colours, 
and ingredients, where it denotes regularity and completeness. 
With this correspond the facts that we have a fourfold account of 
the life of Christ, and that the creaturely life and perfection is 
represented by the four living Beings. Seven is the number 
symbolizing God manifesting Himself in the world. From the 
very first chapter of Genesis to the closing Book of the inspired 
record, this number is invested with a special dignity and 
solemnity. The seventh day is not merely the day of rest, but 
the day on which are completed wnd perfected the works of God. 
Seven is the number of clean animals which Noah was com- 
manded to bring into the Ark. Seven branches had the golden 
candlestick in the holy place of the Tabernacle ; seven days lasted 
the great festivals in Israel ; on seven pillars was built the House 
of Wisdom ; walking amid seven golden candlesticks Jesus is 
represented in the Apocalypse ; seven spirits are before the throne ; 
seven words the Saviour uttered from the cross ; seven petitions 
He gives to His people.^ 

' ' Adolpli Saphir, The Lord's Prayer, 59, 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 135 

The Father. 

"Our Father which art in heaven." 

"After this manner therefore pray ye." This then is the 
right way of praying. Our Lord here in the Sermon on the 
Mount is telling men how to do the three eminent duties — 
"When thou doest alms," "When ye fast," "When ye pray." 
About each of the three He has the same thing to say — Do not 
advertise it ; but when He speaks of prayer He goes further, for 
it is by far the most difficult of the three ; He goes on to tell us 
the right method. " After this manner therefore pray ye." The 
Lord's Prayer is given, not to tie us down to that particular form 
of words (though, indeed, there are none so good), but to show us 
how to pray. " After this manner." This is the right way. 

1. Too often man trips in and out of God's presence, saying 
words that he does not feel towards a Person of whom he has no 
intelligent conception. But we must not do so. Our love and 
our awe must be first evoked. " Father," we approach Him as a 
child in the tenderest relationship ; He is One who loves us with 
more than human love, loves us more than we can love Him, One 
who is more ready to hear than we are to pray. 

*\ Father ! It is the greatest word on mortal tongue, and the 
truth of the universal Fatherhood of God is the greatest which 
ever dawned on the intelligence of man. But did it ever dawn 
upon the intelligence of man in such a way as the other truths 
have done ? When Peter made his great confession, " Thou art 
the Christ, the Son of the living God," our Lord answered him in 
joy and thankfulness, "Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonah; 
for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father 
which is in heaven." May we not say that flesh and blood never 
revealed this truth of God's eternal Fatherhood ? It is God's own 
direct supreme revelation of Himself in Christ His eternal Son.^ 

^ No exercise of will can procure for me, and no amount of 
demerit can forfeit for me, the fact, the existence, of a sonship and 
a Fatherhood. Even in the far country, where the prodigal 
son is feeding swine, not memory alone, but consciousness, 
recognizes a relationship between himself and a far-off person, 
whom he confidently calls his father. And when he forms the 
1 0. F. Aked, The Lord's Prayer, 14. 


resolution to escape from his misery and his destitution, and to seek 
again the land and the home which for years have been to him 
but a dream and an illusion, he frames into words, without a doubt 
or a peradventure, the confession with which he will present him- 
self at the door of that house and that heart, and it begins with 
the assertion of an inalienable relationship — " I will say to him, 

2. The Lord's Prayer bids us lay aside all selfishness at the 
outset. Its first word — " Our " — is the most difficult of all ; for 
to lay aside selfishness is the hardest thing in the world. We 
must begin by casting off self, by realizing that we are only one 
minute unit in the great millions of humanity. Think of it, what 
this word " our " means — all those who are separated from us by 
impassable barriers, those who are so far above us that we cannot 
reach them, those who are so far beneath us that we reckon the 
slightest act of human recognition is a gracious condescension, all 
those who belong to the opposite faction in politics, those who 
belong to hostile nations, those whose religion or whose irreligion 
wars with our deepest convictions ; all those who are outcasts too, 
and criminals, the enemies of society, and those — it is often 
hardest to remember — with whom we have had disagreements, 
quarrels, those whom we feel we cannot like. He is our Father 
only in connexion with these others also. We cannot speak for 
ourselves unless we speak also for them ; we cannot carry our 
petitions to the throne of His grace unless we carry theirs ; we 
cannot ask for any good unless it is for them as much as for us. 
For He is their Father as much as ours, and we cannot say, 
" Our Father which art in heaven," unless we have first learnt to 
say, " Our brothers who are on the earth." 

^ The Lord's Prayer is the simplest of all prayers, and also 
the deepest. We are children addressing a Father who is also 
the Lord of heaven and earth. In Him all the families of the 
earth become one family. The past as well as the present, the 
dead as well as the living, are embraced by His love. When we 
draw near to Him we draw nearer also to our fellow-men. From 
the smaller family to which we are bound by ties of relationship 
we extend our thoughts to that larger family which lives in His 
presence. When we say, " Our Father," we do not mean that God 
is the Father of us in particular, but of the whole human race, 
' C. J. Vaughan, The Lord's Prayer, 15. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 137 

the great family in heaven and earth. The Heavenly Father is 
not like the earthly ; yet through this image we attain a nearer 
notion of God than through any other. We mean that He loves 
us, that He educates us and all mankind, that He provides laws 
for us, that He receives us like the prodigal in the parable when 
we go astray. We mean that His is the nature which we most 
revere, with a mixed feeling of awe and of love ; that He knows 
what is for our good far better than we know ourselves, and is 
able to do for us above all that we can ask or think. We mean 
that in His hands we are children, whose wish and pleasure is to 
do His will, whose duty is to trust in Him in all the accidents of 
their lives.^ 

^ It is in every line a prayer of fellowship and co-operation. 
It is a perfect illustration of the social nature of prayer. The 
co-operation and fellowship are not here confined, and they never 
are except in the lower stages, to the inward communion of an 
individual and his God. There is no / or me or mine in the whole 
prayer. The person who prays spiritually is enmeshed in a living 
group, and the reality of his vital union with persons like himself 
clarifies his vision of that deeper Eeality to whom he prays. 
Divine Fatherhood and human brotherhood are born together. To 
say " Father " to God involves saying " brother " to one's fellows, 
and the ground swell of either relationship naturally carries the 
other with it, for no one can largely realize the significance of 
brotherly love without going to Him in whom love is completed.* 

3. Yet again, it is to the Father in heaven that we are to 
pray. Mankind before Christ sought two ways of knowing God. 
The philosopher thought of Him as far removed from earth in 
His perfection. The polytheist thought of Him as embodied in 
many gods, half-human, and for that reason very near to him. 
The one protested against the error of the other, and both were 
half-true. God is infinitely above us, as the philosopher thought ; 
but He is also very human, very near. So Jesus Christ came to 
show us that God is not some vast abstraction, but is a present 
Father, closer to us than breathing, and nearer than hands or 


For God is never so far off 

As even to be near. 
He is within. Our spirit is 

The home He holds most dear. 

' Benjamin Jowett, Sermons on Faith and Dodrme, 252. 
^ R. M. Jones, The Double Search, 65. 


To think of Him as by our side 

Is almost as untrue 
As to remove His shrine beyond 

Those skies of starry blue. 

So all the while I thought myself 

Homeless, forlorn, and weary. 
Missing my joy, I walked the earth, 

Myself God's sanctuary. 

4. " In heaven " does not mean at a distance. What does it 
mean ? It means perfection. " Our Father in heaven " suggests 
perfection in love, in helpfulness, in homeliness. 

(1) Perfection in love. — We can learn heavenly things only from 
earthly types. Looking at such types, what is our idea of what a 
Father should be ? At least we understand that the word repre- 
sents love — love that thinks, love that works ; the love of one who 
is wise,. who is strong, and who takes trouble. It means this in 
man, it means this in God, and to perfection. 

(2) Perfection in helpfulness. — " If ye then, being evil, know 
how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your 
Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him ? " 
That word " if " seems meant not only to imply an argument, but 
to suggest a question. " If ye . . . know how ! " Do fathers and 
mothers always know ? Look at Hagar, when the bread was gone, 
the water spent, and Ishmael ready to die of want — did she know ? 
" She cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, 
and sat her down over against him, a good way off, as it were a 
bowshot: for she said. Let me not see the death of the child. 
And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept." 
Look at certain times into certain houses not far from your own, 
and you might hear a child ask for bread, and then hear the 
father say, " There is none." He would help, but he does not know 
how. God, as our helper, because He is our Father in heaven, 
might say to us, " As the heavens are higher than the earth, so " — 
in helping you — " are my ways higher than your ways, and my 
thoughts than your thoughts." 

(3) Perfection in homeliness. — The words, " Our Father which 
art in heaven," suggest to us the perfection ' of our home. 
Although the word " heaven " is here used mainly to remind us 
of our Father's perfection, it is meant also to remind us of the 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 139 

family home. Some Christians seem not to care for this doctrine, 
and in giving us their own views they are almost as refined as 
Confucius, who said, '' Heaven is Principle." Our notion, although 
it includes this idea, does not stop at it. It includes not only 
character but condition, not only principle but place. We look 
upon heaven as the perfect home of perfect human nature. 

^ What must that place be in which even God is at home ! 
We cannot tell, and it is astonishing that any mortal has ever 
tried to tell. It is written in an old story that an artist, led by 
Indians, snce went to paint Niagara, but that when he saw it, he 
dashed his disappointing pencil down the precipice, for he felt 
that he could as soon paint the roar, as the fall, the foam, the 
great sheets of light, the arch of coloured rays, with all the other 
wonders that went to make up the surprising cataract ; and shall 
we who have only seen earth, try to picture heaven ! No ! poems 
of glory, pictures of magniiicence, all fail, " imagination in its 
utmost stretch, in wonder dies away " ; in our present state, our 
future state is a mystery, though a mystery of delight. It is our 
home, but the celestial homeliness is beyond us now.^ 


The Name. 

" Hallowed be thy name." 

This is no doxology. It is a prayer. It is the first of three 
prayers concerning God Himself. 

1. What is a " name " ? What is it for us ? A name is the 
brief summary of a person. The use of a name, the object of each 
man having a name, is to supersede the necessity of interminable 
descriptions, and to set before us, by a sort of telegraphic dispatch, 
the whole person — face, form, and properties — of him whom we 
know and of whom we would make mention. The " name " is the 
catchword which renders amplification needless by bringing up 
to us the person — figure and qualities and characteristics in one. 
The name is the man. The absent, distant, inaccessible man is 
made present to us in the naming of the name. 
1 0. Stanford, The Lord's Prayer, 81. 


Even thus is it with the name of God. "When Moses prayed, 
" I beseech thee, shew me thy glory " — and when he was told that 
to see the Face of Grod was impossible, but that he might be 
privileged to behold some sort of back look and (as it were) retro- 
spect of His Person — we read next that the Lord descended, 
passed by before him, and, in answer to that prayer for a sight of 
His glory, proclaimed the name of the Lord. Now what was 
that name ? Was it the " Jehovah," the " I Am," of the original 
revelation ? Eead it as it lies there at length in the 34th chapter 
of the Book of Exodus, and you will see that the name of God is, 
in other words, the sum of God's attributes, " The Lord, the Lord 
God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in good- 
ness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity 
and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the 
guilty." God, such as He is, in mercy and righteousness, in 
boundless compassion and just judgment — that, that is His 
" name." 

2. Learning what God is, we ask that His name may be 
hallowed or held sacred, regarded by all as a true and holy thing 
that is at any cost to be maintained in esteem, and under all 
temptation still believed in. May the idea of God which He 
would have us to possess be held as the choice possession of our 
spirits, the treasure on which our hearts rest, and to which they 
ever return ; may it be held separate from all contamination of 
our own thoughts about God ; and may it never be obscured by 
any cloud of adversity tempting us to think that God has changed, 
never lost sight of by any careless devotion of our thoughts to 
other objects and names ; never presumed upon nor polluted as 
countenancing folly or sin, but cherished still and guarded as " the 
holy and reverend name of the Lord." 

II It is to be noted that this petition stands first of all the 
petitions in the Lord's Prayer. It is the very first thing that a 
disciple thinks of as he begins to pray, indicating what must be 
our first business on the first day of every week — to hallow God's 
name. Nothing else is to take precedence of that. Other things 
may follow. Before the day is over it will be right to offer a 
prayer for daily bread, but that can wait till later. Even the 
prayer for forgiveness of our sins comes later, and the prayer for 
deliverance from temptation comes later. In Christ's order 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 141 

earliest of all stands this petition that the name of God our 
Father may be hallowed.^ 


The Kingdom. 

" Thy kingdom come." 

What is a kingdom ? It is a society of men living in an 
orderly manner a common life under one head or ruler. The 
Kingdom of God is this, but more. For human rule is over men 
only, speaking generally ; the rule of God is over all created 
things. Thus the Kingdom of God is an orderly constitution of 
all things visible and invisible, inanimate, animate and spiritual, 
each in its own place fulfilling the Divine will. 

1. Now this idea of the Kingdom is taken for granted when 
we pray "Thy kingdom come.'" The necessity for this prayer 
arises only because the rule of God in the world has been — not 
indeed banished, but — obscured. So that from the point of view 
of sinful, alienated man, the Kingdom of , God, His manifested 
rule, must be treated as an absent thing to be desired and 

2. This is by no means to be limited to the desire that God's 
sovereignty should be established over our hearts. The prayer is 
put into the mouth of disciples, who have already surrendered 
their hearts and wills to God. " Jesus came preaching the gospel 
of the kingdom " ; and the Kingdom of God is only Christ's name 
for the blessings of the gospel. Therefore this petition means: 
Let thy gospel have world-wide supremacy, and the conceptions 
of God and of life which it teaches govern everywhere. It 
means that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms 
of our God and of His Christ, through the acceptance and appli- 
cation of Christian teachings ; and that the name of God which 
is to be hallowed is that revealed by Jesus Christ. 

^ I am prepared to adopt the following declaration: "The 
coming of the kingdom would mean the death of flunkeyism and 
1 W. E. Richards, A Study of the Lord's JPrayer, 45. 


toadyism in the personal life, the death of mammon in the social 
life, and the death of jingoism in the national life." I venture to 
think that it would banish from our social life all strife, all envy, 
all slander. It forbids Christian people to follow unchristian 
fashions. It makes the pride and stand-offishness of some 
Christians towards their fellow-members positively ridiculous. 
It bids us be courteous, kindly affectioned, pitiful, given to hospi- 
tality, charitable. The same consecrating hand laid upon our 
commercial life will prevent the fierce competition which chokes 
the life out of the weak and exalts the strong ; a heartless rejec- 
tion of a good servant because a few shillings a week can be saved 
by giving the post to a boy : a recognition of a moral code differ- 
ing fundamentally from Jesus Christ's moral code. Business men 
will give a helping hand to fallen brothers who are trying to 
recover themselves ; they will scorn to ask their young clerks 
to make untrue statements about goods. Workmen will lose 
theii' passion for strikes. Christian people — certainly Christian 
ministers — will be ashamed to take shares in a brewery " because 
it pays," or to demand a larger dividend from any company with- 
out enquiring what the effect may be on the employees. In civic 
and political life we shall refuse to allow large vested interests to 
occupy the seat of authority and to shape legislation for their own 
advantage. When the Kingdom comes, no Parliament would 
allow the children's charter — a Bill for preventing the sale of 
intoxicants to young children, a Bill the necessity for which was 
recognized by everybody — to be flung to the brewers and publi- 
cans for them to tear and trample upon. Indeed, we niight go a 
step farther back, and say that when the Kingdom comes there 
will be no liquor traffic on lines that bear any comparison with 
that which shocks and mocks and murders us to-day. And in 
our national life when this prayer is prayed earnestly, we shall 
distinguish between the shoddy patriotism which is only a masked 
pagan vice, which desires to exalt British interests by any means 
warlike or not at the expense of other people, and that truer 
patriotism which is a Christian virtue, which longs to make one's 
own nation good, that it may be blessed of God and become a 
means of blessing to the world. You may easily quarrel with my 
provisional programme of Christian life, but you cannot be a true 
follower of Christ if you do not pray and labour for the coming 
of the Kingdom of our Father, through the spread of the Chris- 
tian religion and the supremacy of the teaching of Jesus.^ 

Father, let Thy kingdom come, — 
Let it come with living power; 

^ J. E. Roberts, Studies in the Lord's Frayer, 29. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 143 

Speak at length the final word, 
Usher in the triumph hour. 

As it came in days of old, 
In the deepest hearts of men. 
When Thy martyrs died for Thee, 
Let it come, God, again. 

Tyrant thrones and idol shrines, 

Let them from their place be hurled: 

Enter on Thy better reign, 

Wear the crown of this poor world. 

what long, sad years have gone, 
Since Thy Church was taught this prayer ! 
what eyes have watched and wept 
For the dawning everywhere. 

Break, triumphant day of God ! 
Break at last, our hearts to cheer; 
Eager souls and holy songs 
Wait to hail Thy dawning here. 

Empires, temples, sceptres, thrones, 
May they all for God be won; 
And, in every human heart, 
Father, let Thy kingdom come.^ 


The Will. 

"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." 

In the second petition of this prayer, we have prayed for God's 
spiritual Kingdom, that it may be set up and established in our 
hearts ; for His visible Kingdom, or Church, that it may increase and 
spread, until it fill the whole earth ; and for His heavenly Kingdom, 
that it may soon drive away and put an end to every kind of sin 
and sorrow, and leave nothing to be seen in the new heavens and 
the new earth but a glorious God, filling all things with His 
presence, and ruling with a Father's love over His dutiful and 

' John Page Hopps. 


holy children. Already, therefore, we have desired that those 
things be fulfilled which are contained in this third petition. We 
cannot desire that He be King over the earth, without desiring 
that His will be done on earth. We do not sincerely own Him as 
King, unless we set His will above our own and every other. For 
a kingdom where there is not one guiding will is a distracted 
kingdom, doomed to fall: a king whose will is not done is a 
mocked and virtually dethroned king. However, to add this 
petition is not to repeat, though it be to develop and follow out, 
the preceding. The three petitions are to one another as root, 
stem, and fruit ; as beginning, middle, and end. 

It is not enough that the Kingdom be established, that its 
boundaries be enlarged, and its glory delighted in ; there is an 
end for which all this is brought about, and that end is that the 
will of the Ruler may be done. We desire that God may assert 
His dominion over us and all men, and may give us to know that 
He is a living and near God by the force of His will upon us. 
From the " name " we pass to the work as displayed in His 
Kingdom, and from the work to the will. From the outskirts of 
His personality we pass to its heart. 

1. The petition, " Thy will be done," is not only the summit or 
the climax of those petitions in which we seek God's honour and 
glory ; it is the foundation of all prayer. For what is prayer ? It is 
not, as is sometimes foolishly thought, a mere means of trying to 
extort something from God ; nor an attempt to change the will of 
God regarding us, as if, by our continual asking, we might obtain 
certain things which God had hitherto denied us. It is, first of 
all and chief of all, an acknowledgment on our part that God 
knows what is best for us, and a desire that He would enable us 
to submit our wills to His will. We cannot rightly ask for any- 
thing, unless we ask for it in humble dependence upon the will of 
God ; unless, in asking, we are conscious that we do not desire it, 
unless God desires it for us. 

2. " Thy will be done," — that, then, is the spirit of every true 
prayer. But it is more, it ought to be the spirit of every true life. 
Apart from such acknowledgment as is here implied, how aimless 
our lives are apt to be, swayed hither and thither by every idle 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 145 

impulse, at the mercy of every gust of passion, or at the best 
centred in some selfish or worldly pursuit. But, on the other 
hand, once a man has realized that he has come forth from God, 
that God has need of him, and has a purpose for him to fulfil, 
what new strength and dignity of character he gains ! He learns 
that he does not stand alone, and gradually there is borne in upon 
him the triumphant consciousness of a life lived, not according to 
any self-willed object or desire, but step by step unfolding itself 
according to " the complete and perfect plan cherished for it in the 
heart of God." "With the Hebrew Psalmist he can exclaim, " 
Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust." " My times are in thy 

3. God's will is to be done here — here on earth — and now. We 
are not to wait for another life, as if then alone we could truly 
serve God. But our service here is to prepare us for our service 
hereafter. We are told of the angels of God that they " do his 
commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word," and that 
they are " all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them 
who shall be heirs of salvation." And the ministry of the angels 
is, as this petition teaches us, to be the model of our ministry. 

^ When Hooker was lying on his deathbed, a friend visiting 
him found him in deep contemplation, and asking what his 
thoughts were, received the reply that he was "meditating the 
nature and number of angels, and their blessed obedience and 
order, without which peace could not be in heaven ; and. Oh ! that 
it might be so on earth." ^ 

Tl When Gladstone was asked for his favourite quotation he 
gave the six words of Dante, " La sua volontade e nostra pace " — 
" His Will is our peace." * 


The Daily Bread. 

"Give us this day our daily bread." 

In the Lord's Prayer there are three petitions for God's glory, 
three for man's spiritual necessity, and in the midst is set one 

1 G. Milligan, The LorcHs Prayer, 83. 
' P. Dearmer, in ChurchmansMp and Labour, 249. 
ST. MATT. — lO 


petition for man's bodily needs — only one, and that most full of 
significance, " Give us this day our daily bread." 

Let us be reverent enough to take this sentence in its plain 
meaning. To give it some mystical or symbolic interpretation 
which our Lord did not mean it to have is to set up another 
prayer which is not the Lord's Prayer. " Daily bread " does not 
refer to the Eucharist. The word translated "daily" is very 
obscure, it occurs nowhere else in the Greek language; but all 
are agreed that the meaning is " bread for our daily subsistence," 
and the attempt made by Abelard in the twelfth century to 
translate it " supersubstantial " is undoubtedly wrong. The 
petition simply deals with the most fundamental of social 
questions — the need of sustenance. 

^ There is no better commentary on this petition than that 
of old Bishop Barrow : " A noble heart will disdain to subsist 
like a drone on the honey gained by others' labour; or like 
vermin to filch its food from the public granary ; or like a shark 
to prey on the lesser fry: but wijl one way or other earn his 
subsistence, for he that does not earn can hardly be said to own 
his daily bread." ^ 

1. The first point to notice in this clause of the Lord's 
Prayer is its moderation. In the prayer which is prompted by 
our natural instinct we ask for everything we happen to want ; 
we put ourselves first; we are immoderate in our desires; we 
seek to bend the Divine will to our own wishes. In all these 
respects, as has been already noticed, the Lord's Prayer puts 
human instinct under the strongest check. This prayer for the 
supply of our own needs is not allowed to be uttered till it has 
been preceded by prayer for the honouring of the Divine name, 
the coming of the Divine Kingdom, and the doing of the Divine 
will ; and till, in all these respects, the law of heaven has been 
taken for the law of human conduct. 

2. Next let us ask what daily bread can be understood to 
include ? Surely it is all that is necessary for us to make the 
best of our faculties. It is nourishment ; and everything may 
fairly be called nourishment which can be said to fertilize and 

^ P. Dearmer, in Churchmanship wnd Labour, 252. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 147 

liberate the energies of human nature, instead of cloying and 
clogging them. Once grant this, and it is obvious that very 
different things are meant by "bread" to different people. 
There is hardly any luxury which has not its use to stimulate 
this or that nature, or to meet this or that exceptional need. 
The question whether this or that article of diet or comfort can 
be used under the head of " daily bread," can be answered only 
by answering the question — Do I work the better for it ? And 
in answering this question there are two facts, closely allied, 
which have to be kept in mind. 

(1) The first is, that comforts very soon reach the point where 
they begin to clog human energies instead of liberating them. 
A venerable statesman has been often heard to remark that the 
things people say they " can't do without " are like the pieces of 
thread with which the Lilliputians bound Gulliver. Each of 
them could be snapt by itself, but taken together they bound 
him more tightly than strong cords. N'obody, therefore, can find 
out what he really needs for his work without constantly testing 
himself in giving up things. No one can consider a number of 
well-to-do Englishmen without perceiving that they are material- 
ized; that is, that the supply of food and drink and comfort 
generally dulls their intellectual and still more their spiritual 
powers. In other words, the spirit in them is the slave of the 

(2) Here comes in view the second fact. Easting has been 
historically a principle of Christianity, and was so in Apostolic 
Christianity. Eightly stated, the principle of fasting is but the 
recognition that the flesh has in ordinary human life got the 
upper hand of the spirit, and that it is time for the spirit to take 
revenges upon the flesh, and to assert its mastery. Fasting, like 
every other principle, must have its methods and its rules and its 
order, or it will fail to take effect ; but we are concerned now 
only with the principle, and it is this — the Christian will, from 
time to time, deliberately deny himself in lawful comforts, and 
nourishment of the body, in order to assert spiritual vitahty, 
in order to find out what he can do without, in order to 
maintain the principle that " man shall not live by bread 
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth 
of God." 


3. The next point in this petition lies in the word "this 
day." St. Matthew has "this day"; St. Luke has "day by 
day." It is conjectured that the one was the morning version 
and the other the evening version of the Early Church. 
The lesson is simple. We must be content to wait from 
day to day upon the hand of God; we must ask only 
for present needs; we must not be anxious about the 

But, it may be said, how can this be reconciled with the fore- 
thought and far-sightedness that are necessary to civilized life ? 
The answer lies in our own experience. Have we found that 
anxiety about possible consequences increased the clearness of our 
judgment ? Have we found that it made us wiser and braver in 
meeting the present, or more far-sighted in arming ourselves for 
the future ? We know very well that it is the opposite spirit that 
has made civilization possible — the spirit of men who are content 
to do their work from day to day, to plough the field and wait 
for the harvest, the spirit of men who take their meat from God 
in simple and hearty reliance upon the Power whom the earth and 
the winds and seas obey. Clearness of vision, providence, dis- 
covery, are the rewards of the calm and patient spirit, that is 
content day by day to have the daily bread. Out of the anxiety 
for the morrow that cannot pray, " Give us to-day our bread," 
spring all the evils of the money-lust — the fever of speculation, 
the hasting to be rich, the endless scheming, the continual reactions 
of fantastic hope and deep depression in individuals, of mad 
prosperity and intense sufferings in nations. Wars, oppressions, 
misery, crime — these are because men do not pray, " Give us this 



"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." 

After bread, forgiveness. After the wants of the body comes 
this prime necessity of the soul, " Give us our bread, forgive us 
our debts." It is put here as a daily spiritual need — something 
that we require as constantly as food. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 149 

1. Debts. — The Bible has many words for sin, but debt is the 
only word for it in the Lord's Prayer. In explaining this petition, 
our Saviour calls sins "trespasses," but in the Prayer itself we 
have only " debts." A debt is what is due but has not been done 
or paid. " Debts," " dues," and " duty " come from the same root. 
Sins are like debts in many ways, though not in everything, for 
the debts of the soul are more awful than any money debts can 
be. Sins represent duties that have not been met, and they make 
us guilty or liable to punishment. 

2. Our debts. — Our debts are ours exclvsively — without any sub- ' 
traction, division, or partnership. They are ours as our eyes, our 
bones, and our soul are ours : they are ours alone ; they cannot 
be ascribed to us and to some other person. It is in vain to blame 
others for them, as Adam blamed Eve, and Eve the serpent. Our 
temptations are not our sins, and our tempters cannot sin for us. 
Each is a solitary agent, and must bear his own burden of blame. 
And our debts are ours inseparably. Many tickets have the 
words, " Not transferable " ; we are not allowed to hand them to 
some one else. Some people think that they may transfer their 
sins to pious relatives, to monks or nuns who pray and fast much, 
to priests, or to the Church. That cannot be ; for there is only 
One who can say, " Put that on mine account." 

3. The forgiveness of our debts. — A gospel is in the words. 
Here, in the Master's Prayer, given for the perpetual use of all 
men, is mention made of " sins " as belonging to all, and of " forgive- 
ness " as ready for all ; and the little particle " and " couples 
this petition, as though it were the easiest and most natural thing 
in the world, to the request for " daily bread." Could all this be 
so, if Christ our Lord were not teaching us that which God alone 
could know, that of which the reality could have been seen only 
in heaven, concerning that most impossible thing to flesh and 
blood — " the absolution and remission of our sins " ? 

^ Forgiveness is the miracle of miracles of the Gospel Dispensa- 
tion. You count it a great thing — it is so — when you see the 
Holy Ghost breathing into dead matter newness of life ; when you 
see the lifeless affection rekindled, and the sinner, buried in his 
lusts and passions, quickened out of that grave into newness of 
life. But surely even this miracle, were infinites comparable, 


might shriuk into insignificance in contrast with that other. In 
this you see the effect, if not the instrumentality. You hear the 
wind, if you cannot track it. In the other, all is faith, all is super- 
natural, all is Divine, God, by the fiat of His own " Let there be 
light," bids the past, which is a real existence, shrivel up, and be 
no more. God bids the wicked act which you did last night, in 
your wantonness or in your refusal to reflect, to die with itself and 
bear no fruit. Did you think, when you lightly or summarily said 
last night's prayer, " Forgive us our sins," all, all that was involved 
in it? You might not — but Christ did. Christ, who presided 
over Creation — Christ, who became Incarnate that He might 
" become sin " — Christ took the measure of it. Christ taught that 
Prayer which you uttered — only I cannot tell whether the lips 
which said it meant it, felt it, or " babbled " in the uttering.^ 



" Lead us not into temptation." 

The original and true meaning of the word " temptation " is 
simply a "trial," or a "test." Anything which tries a man's 
mettle, puts him to the proof, reveals the real character of his 
heart, is a temptation in the true sense of the word. This is 
its meaning in Holy Scripture, and this was also its only meaning 
in English at the time of the translation of our Authorized 
Version. Viewed in this light, every experience of life is a 
temptation. Our joys and sorrows, our health or sickness, our 
work or play, our adversity and prosperity can and do put us to 
the test quite as effectively as Eve's temptation in the Garden 
of Eden. 

1. The Christian, while in the world, has to face the tempta- 
tions and dangers of the world ; and, so long as there is any evil 
within him, he will be prone to yield to these. Only after a race, 
a race run in much weakness, it may be with many falls and 
bruises, does he obtain the prize. Only after a fight, a fight with 
the evil within him, around him, a fight which he is at times 
tempted to abandon in despair, is the victory his. Therefore it is 

' 0. J. Vaughan, The Lord's Prayer, 131. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 151 

that our Lord, to the petition for forgiveness, adds the further 
petition, " Lead us not into temptation." As that points to the 
past, this points to the future. When we pray, " Forgive us our 
debts," we think of contracted guilt which we ask God to cancel, 
liabilities we have failed to meet which we ask Him to pardon. 
When we pray " and lead us " (or " bring us ") " not into tempta- 
tion," we think of the temptations and difficulties which are lying 
before us, and ask for the needful grace and strength to meet them. 
It is as if with the Psalmist we cried, " Thou hast delivered my 
soul from death : wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that 
I may walk before God in the light of the living ? " 

2. But it may be asked : " Why should we thus pray to God ? 
Do we not know that, as He 'cannot be tempted with evil, 
neither tempteth he any man'" (Jas. i. 13)? Yes; but God may 
permit temptation. He does not, like the tempter, stand on the 
side of temptation, and desire to see evil result from it ; but He 
may at times place a man in such a situation that it is very easy 
for him to do wrong, very hard for him to do right. Thus we 
read of our Lord Himself that He was " led up of the Spirit into 
the wilderness to be tempted of the devil " (Matt. iv. 1). He was 
as much under the guidance and direction of God then as when 
He went down into the water to be baptized; and because His 
will was in perfect harmony with the will of God, He successfully 
overcame the temptation. And so, when we look forward to the 
temptations which must meet us in the world, what petition can 
be more natural for us than that God should not bring us into 
such as may prove too strong for us ? It is our prayer of con- 
scious weakness, the weakness which shrinks from the danger 
by which it may be overcome ; or, in the words of the Shorter 
Catechism, it is the prayer " that God would either keep us from 
being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are 

3. If we are following Christ fully, we will not hesitate to go 
with Him into any experience, however perilous it may be. " He 
that saveth his life shall lose it." Yet so much is involved in 
temptation, such possibilities of defeat and failure are dependent 
on the issue, that we dare not desire to enter into it. It is pre- 


sumptuous to clamour to be led into the conflict. More than 
once Jesus warned His disciples to watch, that they might not 
enter into temptation. He knew how inadequate their courage 
and strength would prove in battle with the Evil One, how their 
faith would fail in the moment of assault. We read of soldiers 
sick of camp, and chafing to be led against the enemy, but the 
Christian who is impatient to be tempted is very foolish. Temp- 
tation is too terrible an experience to be rushed into, unled by 

The Evil One. 

"Deliver us from the evil one" (R.V.). 

St. Paul says, " We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but 
against the principalities, against the powers, against the world- 
rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness 
in the heavenly places." In other words, the temptations that 
come from visible and tangible sources draw their strength from 
a source which is unseen. Behind visible foes there is an in- 
visible; behind the visible opposition of evil men there is an 
invisible prince of darkness and an unseen host of fallen spirits 
intruding themselves into the highest things, into the heavenly 

^ I am quite sure that our Lord speaks so confidently and so 
frequently of the existence of evil spirits that a sober Christian 
cannot doubt their reality, and I feel sure also that their exist- 
ence interprets a good deal which would otherwise be unintel- 
ligible in our spiritual experience. When thoughts of poisonous 
evil, distinct and vivid, are shot into our mind, like suggestions 
from a bad companion; when a tempest of pride and rebellion 
against God surges over our soul ; when voices of discouragement 
and despair tell us that it is no use trying, and that human 
nature is hopelessly bad ; when a sinful course of action presents 
itself to us in a wholly false aspect until we have committed our- 
selves to it, and then strips off its disguises and shows itself in its 
true colours, in its ugliness, in its treachery, in its infamy — in all 
such experiences we do well to remember that besides the weak- 
ness or pollution of our own flesh, and besides the solicitations of 
the world, there is " the adversary," " the devil," that is, the 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 153 

slanderer of God and of our human nature and the " father of 
lies," actually at work to seduce our wills and sophisticate our 

1. What the particular form of deliverance is which we re- 
quire must be left for each one to discover in the silence of his or 
her own heart. The devil does not assail us all alike ; he comes 
to us in many ways. To some he comes in great spiritual dulness 
or deadness, rendering them unable to lift up their thoughts or 
hearts to God, whispering that God has forgotten them, and no 
longer cares for them, His children. To others he comes in all 
the might of some terrible besetting sin, — anger, pride, impurity, 
intemperance, — binding them with cords which seem too strong 
to be broken ; while many — all — even if they are not conscious 
of any one outstanding temptation, and can point to no special 
hindrance in their Christian path, yet know that their lives are 
not what they ought to be, and that, consciously or unconsciously, 
openly or secretly, they are continually led to do those things 
which they ought not to have done, and to leave undone those 
things which they ought to have done. 

^ It is told of a Eoman youth who, notwithstanding a 
mother's unwearied prayers, had lived a life of self-seeking and 
sinful indulgence, that one day, as he sat in the garden, in the 
cloudless beauty of an autumn day, a great struggle took place in 
his mind. Throwing himself on his knees he prayed earnestly 
to God, " Lord, how long — how long — how long wilt thou be 
angry with me ? Must it be for ever to-morrow, and to-morrow, 
and to-morrow ? Why should it not be to-day ? " Suddenly in 
his agony he seemed to hear the voice as of a little child repeat- 
ing, " Take up and read " ; " Take up and read." And taking up 
the Epistles of St. Paul which he had h,appened to be reading, 
and opening the book at random, his eye caught these words: 
" Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wanton- 
ness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts 
thereof" (Kom. xiii. 13, 14). The words came to him as a 
direct message from God, and in one instant strong resolve, 
he determined for ever to break with his old life and in 
the might of Christ to enter on the new. Augustine put on 

' Charles Gore, Prayer and the Lord's Prayer, 75, 

» G. Milligan, The Lord's Prayer, 153. 


2. There are temptations to the energetic and there are 
temptations to the indolent. 

(1) To the energetic. — Let us mention just a few temptations. 
Irritability with others who perhaps do not work quite on our 
lines, or in our way ; self-satisfaction, with that blunting of 
sympathy for others which so often accompanies it ; trust in self, 
rather than reliance on God; perhaps a disposition to sacrifice 
means to ends, to be so anxious to attain some good object that 
we, as Shakespeare says, " to do a great right do a little wrong." 
We may name also uncharitable judgments; want of considera- 
tion for other people's points of view ; perhaps thinking we are 
doing so much for God in some respects that He will not be 
very particular about our shortcomings in others ; e.g., letting our 
practical duties swallow up all our time for prayer, or being 
very kind to those we love, but not quite upright and sincere 
in our dealings with our neighbour, or being very devout, and 
good to the poor, yet living on in some sinful habit. Let us 
add, impatience for results, and fretfulness imder disappoint- 

(2) To the indolent. — Are there no temptations to the timid, 
the slothful, and the indifferent? Does not Satan come to us 
in the guise of a false humility ? — false humility, as Milton repre- 
sents him doing to our Lord when he appeared an aged man in 
rural weeds — 

Following, as seem'd, the quest of some stray ewe. 
Or wither'd sticks to gather; which might serve 
Against a winter's day when winds blow keen, 
To warm him wet return'd from field at eve, 

or when he departs, baiHed at the close — 

bowing low 
His gray dissimulation. 

Does not Satan often come wearing an air of lowliness, or inviting 
us to assume one, whispering in our ear that we are not the 
people to put ourselves forward or to exert ourselves, that we are 
only commonplace, that third-class carriages are the proper ones 
for us to ride in, that we need not feel any self-reproach when we 
hear of great acts, great efforts, great self-denials ? 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 9 155 

f We read of a man like Henry Martyn, the evangelist of 
India, and think we have settled everything by saying, " People 
like that are born saints ; they belong to quibe a different cate- 
gory from ourselves." We seem to think there is a kind of virtue 
in shirking anything that calls us to rise above an everyday 
level, and that we deserve credit for our very neglect of duty. 
I do wish sometimes some of us were a little more ambitious, a 
little more eager, about the best things. We do not seem to 
realize that Satan can tempt and does tempt people quite as much 
to be slothful and stupid in religion as he does to be proud and 
self-righteous. There is no more instructive passage in the 
Pilgrim's Progress than the picture of the enchanted ground. It 
has no grim figure of Apollyon with his darts, nor of Giant 
Despair with his bolts and bars, nor of the worldly seductions 
and bitter persecutions of " Vanity Fair " : the enemy is not seen ; 
he is shapeless and impalpable, but his power is on the heavy 
eyelids, the stupefied brain, the laggard limbs of every pilgrim who 
goes through the region and feels its dulling, deadening influence.^ 

' Elizabeth Wordsworth, Thoughts on the Lord's Prayer, 212. 

The First Things Fiest, 



Alexander (S. A.), Christ and Scepticism, 109. 

Clayton (C), Stanhope Sermons, 127. 

Davies (J. LI.), Social Questions, 154. 

Ebright (H. K)., in Drew Sermons on the Golden Texts for 1910, 37. 

Ewing (J. F.), The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 241. 

Hare (J. C), Parish Sermons, i. 283. 

Hort (F. J. A.), Village Sermons, ii. 81. 

Howard (H.), The Raiment of the Soul, 58. 

Jackson (G.), The Teaching of Jesus, 129. 

Jenkinson (A.), A Modem Disciple, 107. 

Kingsley (C), Sermons for the Times, 167. 

Kuegele (F.), Country Sermons, New Ser., iv. 550. 

Mcllveen (J.), Christ and the Christian Life, 121. 

Miller (G. A.), The Life Efficient, 39. 

Miller (J.), Sermons, i. 37. 

Porter (N.), Yale College Sermons, 268. 

Eeid (J.), The First Things of Jesus, 119. 

Southouse (A. J.), The Men of the Beatitudes, 127. 

Talbot (E. S.), Sermons at Southwarh, 267. 

Wardell (R. J.), Sermons in Homiletics, 116. 

Williams (0. D.), A Valid Christianity for To-Day, 276. 

Wilson (J. M.), Sermons Preached in Clifton College Chapel, ii. 7. 

Woodhouse (F. C), The Life of the Soul, 262. 

Young (P.), in Sermons for the People, vi. 121. 

Christian World Pulpit, xii. 164 (H. W. Beecher) ; Ixi. 184 (F. W. 
Macdonald) ; Ixxv. 300 (G. E. Darlaston) ; Ixxxi. 156 (W. Mac- 

Church of England Pulpit, Ixii. 166 (H. H. Henson). 

Church Fa/tmly Newspaper, Jan. 12, 1912 (J. D. Thompson). 

Record, May 28, 1909 (G. Nickson). 


The First Things First. 

But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness ; and all these 
things shall be added unto you.— Matt. vi. 33. 

There is no sentence which more distinctively expresses the mind 
of Jesus regarding the conduct of life than "Seek ye first his 
kingdom, and his righteousness." It gathers up everything into 
itself. It is His definition of the chief good which is within the 
reach of men. Many other words of His may be taken as ruling 
principles of life, but they are only parts of this simple and sublime 
utterance. It is the " secret of Jesus," the clue which He put 
into the hands of men to guide them through the labyrinth of life. 
Many of the deep-reaching principles of Jesus were spoken 
in opposition to those of the Scribes and Pharisees, but in this 
instance He passes beyond the ideas of any sect or class, and sets 
forth His thought of the chief aim of life in contrast to what was 
universally held then, and is also widely, if not universally, held 
now. In His moral perspective the desirable things of life are 
arranged in a startlingly new order, and with a surprisingly strong 
emphasis. He places first what men degrade to a very subordinate 
position. In the foreground, as men's highest and best good. He 
sets the quest for the Kingdom of God. 


The Kingdom of God. 

Every man who would make life a success must have something 
that is always first for him. Now Jesus declared that the great 
first thing of life is the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. 
" Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness." 

1. The Kingdom of God and His righteousness is one of the 



key-phrases of the gospel, and it is freely employed in many 
connexions. Christ takes it from the common stock of political 
phraseology, from which the men of His nation clothed their 
aspirations. In a theocracy the State adopts the language of the 
Church and advances identical claims. " The Kingdom of God," 
as the formula of Messianic politics, meant no more than a mere 
project of nationalist triumph. But Christ, in adopting the 
phrase, purged it of secularism, exalted it from the plane of 
politics to that of morals, and enlarged it until all the drama of 
human life could be gathered within its meaning. It- stood for 
loyalty to the higher self, obedience to the Divine monitions of 
conscience, the pursuit of righteous ends, the self-dedication to 
spiritual service, the sustained crusade against evil within and 
without the man himself. Christ tells us that there is a true order 
of human endeavour, and that when that order is followed all 
the lesser concerns of human life find sufficient and unfailing 
guarantee. Make these your principal concern, and you lose the 
summum bonum itself, and do not even secure them. " Seek ye 
first his kingdom, and his righteousness ; and all these things shall 
be added unto you." He unrolls before us no alluring picture of 
reward, no Muhammadan Paradise of feasting and pleasure, but 
He tells us that we are the sons of the Most High, and bids us 
live as such. 

Nor sang he only of unfading bowers, 

Where they a tearless, painless age fulfil, 
In fields Elysian spending blissful hours, 

Eemote from every iU; 
But of pure gladness found in temperance high, 

In duty owned, and reverenced with awe. 
Of man's true freedom, which may only lie 

In servitude to law. 

2. The Kingdom of God which we are to seek is a great ideal, 
under which all lesser aims must find their place ; it provides us 
with a great end of all action to which the plans and purposes of 
our daily lives are but means ; it informs our lives with a great 
principle by which all our acts are co-ordinated and to which 
they are relative. The word " kingdom " speaks of something 
wide, all-embracing, manifold, but with all its manifoldness made 
one by law, which impresses upon all its diverse elements the 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 161 

unity of one will, one purpose, one destiny. We are too apt to 
speak of an ideal as something wholly unattainable, and to excuse 
ourselves for not living the ideal life by saying that it is ideal ; 
that is not the sense in which our Lord speaks of the Kingdom 
of God. It is rather an ideal to be realized in every act, and 
therefore within our reach at every moment ; imperfect as we are, 
it is to be embodied in us, and made visible to the world through 
our lives. To seek for the material objects, the subordinate aims 
of life first, before this ideal is apprehended, is to invert the order 
in which God would have us live ; to immerse ourselves in details, 
without constant reference to the ideal, is to break up our lives, 
our characters, our institutions, into incoherent fragments devoid 
of all unity. The details are not indeed unimportant, but they 
are important only in relation to the ideal, which gives to them 
all their beauty, all their excellence. Without it they are but as 
the random streaks of colour on a painter's palette ; with it, and 
in due subordination to it, they are as the various brush-strokes 
which gradually realize on the canvas the one purpose of the 
painter's mind. "All these things," these lesser objects, these 
fragmentary aims, these partial goods, shall be not theirs who 
strive for them alone, but theirs who seek first the ideal, the 
Kingdom of God and His righteousness. 

^ In all ages men have dreamjd of isles of the blessed and 
Elysian fields. Some have dreamed of Utopias in this world. 
But in all these dreams only externals have been considered. 
Pindar sings : 

For them the night all through, 

In that broad realm below, 

The splendour of the sun spreads endless light; 

'Mid rosy meadows bright . . . 

There with horses and with play 

With games and lyres they while the hours away. 

And Plato in bis ideal republic, and modern dreamers, plan only 
for an equitable distribution of property and the elimination of 
poverty, that should accompany the coming of the Kingdom of 
Heaven. But the first characteristic of the Kingdom of Heaven 
is that it is inward, facts prove that men can be rich and 
educated and yet vile. Nations have been prosperous and 
cultured, but rotted away because of their sin. The Kingdom of 
Heaven is in the heart of men. St. Paul said, " The kingdom of 



God is not meat and drink ; but righteousness, and peace, and joy 
in the Holy Ghost." ^ 

3. The "Kingdom of God," to use Bishop Gore's terse and 
pregnant definition, is, " human society as organized according to 
the will of God," just as " the world " of the New Testament is 
"human society as organized apart from the will of God." It 
means the will of the Father-king "done in earth, as it is in 
heaven." Now to take up our ordinary daily work, whatever it 
be, as a ministry of human service fitting into the great plan of 
God for a redeemed universe, and to do it to that end, to set that 
high purpose and ideal over it all and be absolutely faithful to 
that, cost what it may of success or gain, whether in the form of 
wages or profits, to eliminate the mercenary motive and substitute 
that spiritual purpose — that is to seek first the Kingdom of God 
and His righteousness in our common occupations. 

The Kingdom of God is an empire with three provinces. One 
province is a man's own heart, when the throne of Christ is once 
really set up in it. Another province is the Church as it is 
established upon the earth. And another is that final and mag- 
nificent condition of all things, when Christ shall come and reign 
in His glory. There are, then, before every one these three great 
primary objects : the first is to have the whole of one's own heart 
in subjugation to God ; the second is to extend the Church ; and 
the third is to long and pray for, and help on, the Second Coming 
of Christ. If we have begun to make the Kingdom of God our 
great object, then our first desire is that Christ may have His 
proper place in our hearts. Our great longing is after holiness. 
We are more anxious about our holiness than we are about our 
happiness. And then every day we are trying to make some one 
happier and better. We have in our circles inner ones and outer 
ones. We do not neglect the nearer for the sake of the farther 
one ; but yet we do not so confine ourselves to that which is close 
that we do nothing for that which is far off. But we love the 
Church, the whole Church of Christ ; we are trying to increase 
the Church of Christ; we go about with a missionary spirit 
And, further, our eye is looking for the coming of Jesus. It is a 
happy thought to us every day, "Now the coming of Jesus is 

1 H. K. Ebright. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 163 


nearer than it was yesterday," because it is to us no fear ; we are 
not watching against it, we are watching for it ; it is the climax 
of all pleasant things to us. 

^ The return of Christ in bodily form to reign over His faith- 
ful ones, their own bodies rescued from death and the grave, is 
the aim and goal of our exultant hope. For that return His early 
followers eagerly waited. And their eager hope suggested that 
perhaps they might hear His voice and see His face without 
passing under the dark shadow of death. That expectation was 
not fulfilled. And we cannot share it. But, long as the time 
seems, that day will come. Had we witnessed the creation of 
matter, and known that long ages were predestined to elapse 
before rational man would stand on the earth, our expectation 
would have wearied at the long delay. But those long ages 
rolled by ; and for thousands of years our planet has teemed with 
rational life. So will pass by whatever ages remain before our 
Lord's return. Many reasons suggest that, though not close at 
hand, it cannot be very long delayed. Doubtless we shall lay us 
down for our last sleep. But in our sleep we shall be with Him. 
And when the morning dawns we shall wake up in the splendour 
of the rising Sun. 

Yes, I come quickly. 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.^ 

4. Thus the Kingdom is both individual and social. It begins 
with the individual indeed ; it can do nothing unless it transforms 
the springs of action within him. But it does not end With the 
individual. It proposes to regenerate society also, and so to renew 
both that every individual act and every social agency shall be in 
harmony with the original ideal of God. Its Founder in His 
humility declared the Kingdom of God to be like leaven which 
rests not till it pervades and restores the mass unto itself. And 
when He sat upon His throne, He said, " Behold, I make all things 

•[I The Kingdom of Heaven does not mean the kingdom in 
heaven. The phrase describes the Kingdom's temper and quality, 
not its locality. It is a term spiritual, and not geographical. 
John Bunyan had a wonderful vision of spiritual experience in 
Bedford gaol. It is accurate enough so long as you make it sub- 
jective. A man ought to escape from spiritual pest-holes, and 
^ J. Agar Beet, The Last Thirngs, 112, 


struggle out of spiritual despondency, and get the burden of his sin 
loosened from the shoulders of his soul, and vigorously climb hills 
of difficulty, and valiantly fight the devil, and get mountain-top 
visions of the Glory Land, before he gets to the Celestial City. 
But if you forget that these are interior experiences that the 
great spiritual dramatist is describing, and make them instead a 
picture of a man's actual attitude towards the world, then the 
pilgrim's achievement ceases to be a spiritual exercise and becomes 
a terribly selfish performance. For the thing that is true about 
the man who really seeks the Kingdom where it ought to exist — 
that is, on earth — is that he will not run away from the city of 
destruction, but do his best to make it a city of God ; will not 
calmly desert wife and family to get personal spiritual treasure ; 
and will not be carelessly indifferent to his companions on his trip 
because they are not of his sort. And if he comes to a slough of de- 
spond, he will try to drain the swamp instead of merely floundering 
in and floundering out again ; and when he escapes from the castle , 
of the Giant Despair, he will bombard the castle and do his best 
to make an end of the giant for the sake of other poor pilgrims. 
His business is not to get to the City Celestial as soon as possible, 
but to bring celestial atmosphere and celestial splendour into all 
the regions through which he moves.^ 

5. Our Lord adds, "and his righteousness." What does 
He mean? There is a righteousness such as that in which 
man was originally made upright ; there is a righteousness which 
is a part of the character of God ; and there is a righteousness 
composed of all the perfections of the life of Christ. These three 
righteousnesses are all one. Now, this triple righteousness is 
what every good man is " seeking " after : first, something which 
will justify him before God, and then something which will 
justify him to his own conscience, and to the world, in believing 
that he is justified before God. And where shall a man find his 
justification before God but in faith in Jesus Christ? And 
where shall a man find the justification of his faith and hope 
that he is justified, but in the justification of his own good works 
which he is doing every day ? To those, then, that " seek " these 
two things — "the kingdom" and "the righteousness" — the 
promise belongs. 

T[ Kighteousness, as it was understood and taught by Christ, 
includes the two things which we often distinguish as religion 

' W. MaoMullen. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 165 

and morality. It is right-doing, not only as between man and 
man, but as between man and God. The Lawgiver of the New 
Testament, like the lawgiver of the Old, has given to us two 
tables of stone. On the one He has written, " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 
with all thy mind " ; and on the other, " Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself," In these two commandments the whole 
law is summed up, the whole duty of man is made known.^ 

6. God's righteousness is itself the very spirit of His own 
Kingdom. Christ does not here tell us merely to seek righteous- 
ness, though elsewhere we are thus bidden; but to seek God's 
righteousness. Any righteousness which is of our own making, 
which we try to gain by standing aloof from Him, is worth 
nothing at all. His righteousness does not merely mean righteous- 
ness like His, but His own very righteousness. We must receive 
Himself into our hearts, and then His righteousness will spring 
lip within us and overflow all our doings. 

And we receive God into our hearts by receiving Christ. 
Christ is all His followers are to be; in Him the righteousness 
of the Kingdom is incarnate. Prom henceforth the righteous 
man is the Christ-like man. The standard of human life 
is no longer a code but a character; for the gospel does not 
put us into subjection to fresh laws ; it calls us to " the study of a 
living Person, and the following of a living Mind." And when to 
Jesus we bring the old question, " Good Master, what shall I do 
that I may inherit eternal life ? " He does not now repeat the 
commandments, but He says, " If thou wouldst be perfect, follow 
Me, learn of Me, do as I have done to you, love as I have loved 

^ " Unselfed and inchristed " is the phrase that has been em- 
ployed to set forth the great transaction of spiritual renewal ; and 
observe how the Apostle encourages us to serve a writ of ejection 
on the old tenant, our evil self, and to bring in a new occupant of 
the premises : " That ye put off concerning the former conversa- 
tion the old man, which is corrupt 'according to the deceitful lusts ; 
. . . and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created 
in righteousness and true holiness." No betterment or reforma- 
tion of the depraved tenant, who is also in hopeless arrears with 
his landlord, but a peremptory order to move out ! Moreover, the 

' G. Jackson, The Teaching of Jesua, 129. 


Christian is considered to have done this very thing — evicted his 
former self, and set its goods and chattels out upon the sidewalk. 
" Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds ; and 
have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after 
the image of him that created him." So vividly and strongly did 
this conception take hold of Martin Luther that he used to say, 
" When any one comes and knocks at the door of my heart and 
asks, ' Who lives here ? ' I reply, ' Martin Luther used to, but he 
has moved out, and Jesus Christ now lives here.' " ^ 


The Kingdom First. 

" Seek ye first." It is interesting to note that the word trans- 
lated " seek " in the text has for one of its meanings, if not for its 
primary significance, "to beat the covers for birds." It is the 
sportsman's method of seeking. How does a sportsman seek? 
Many readers of these words will know from experience what it 
means in the way of work, even under the most favourable condi- 
tions, for a sportsman to fill his bag — how he must be prepared to 
wade swamps, climb uplands, push through brake and brier, watch, 
wait, wriggle, and in fact do everything but fail, for no sportsman 
worthy of the name cares to come back with an empty bag. If, 
however, he is to succeed, his whole soul must be in his quest. 
Hand and eye and ear must all be working in concert. For note 
it is "birds under cover" to which the word relates, and, that 
being so, the bird is up only for a brief moment, and must be taken 
as it flies. What a startling suggestion is this — the Kingdom of 
God like a bird on the wing ! It is a passing thing — here now, and 
to-day within present sight and range ; but it is speeding past, 
and we must take it as it flies lest to-morrow it should be " under 
cover," and " these things be hid from our eyes." 

1. First — that is now, and without further procrastination, if 
the fresh dawn of existence is no longer mine. It is suicidal to 
persist through another hour in filching from my soul its proper 
patrimony. My times are uncertain; my health is brittle; 
hardening and ossifying infiuences are incessant in their action ; 
* A. J. Gordon: A Biography, 100. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 167 

God is free to take His departure. Is it not the folly of follies to 
stand in jeopardy for one instant more ? First — that is, when I 
rise in the beginning of each day. If I have sought and found the 
Kingdom's gold and crystal and pearl and gem, let me renew 
acquaintance with them every morning. To them, and to the 
Lord who makes and keeps them my own, let me return, when 
mind is clear and thought is vigorous and weariness is far away. 
So they will gleam into warmer loveliness and greater worth. 

We would fill the hours with the sweetest things 

If we had but one day; 
We should drink alone at the purest springs 

In our upward way; 
We should love with a lifetime's love in an^^hour 

If the hours were few; 
We should rest not for dreams, but for fresher power 

To be and to do. 

We should waste no moments in weak regret 

If the day were but one; 
If what we remember and what we regret 

Went out with the sun; 
We should be from our clamorous selves set free 

To work and to pray, 
And to be what the Pather would have us to be. 

If we had but a day.^ 

2. But to seek the Kingdom first means more than this. It 
means an act of deliberate preference on the many occasions in 
life when coimter claims come up. Again and again it may be 
that, in our inner life, in our family life, in our business life, in our 
public life, there come, and will come, times when the forces 
of the world, of self, of sense, of earthly affection, of taste, of 
ambition, pull one way, and the interests of the Kingdom of God 
the other, and for an hour, a day, a week, a month, perhaps, there 
is a struggle as to which is to be put first. 

The major problem of life is that of its dominant note, its 
central issue, its great first thing. The one supreme business of 
living is to get that decisive emphasis on the thing that is first. 
The supreme tragedy of life comes to the man who gets the major 
emphasis on something else than the first thing. All life is then 
1 Mary Lowe Dickinson. 


out of proportion, all experience a tangle, and all tasks in con- 
fusion. There are strong lives that stagger and sink because 
they have missed the course. There are men of genius who go 
out in despair because they have put the major emphasis on the 
wrong thing. It is no more possible to bring strength to a life 
with a false axis than to keep the solar system in order with some 
other body than the sun as its centre. Poe and Byron, and Bums 
and Shelley, and De Quincey and Napoleon, and Nero and Saul 
were men who got the emphasis in the wrong place, and their 
splendid lives crashed to inglorious ruin. Lesser men in lesser 
measure exhibit the same tragedy of misplaced emphasis and dis- 
ordered lives. 

^ The sister of Nietzsche tells us that, when the thinker was 
a little boy, he and she once decided to take each of them a toy 
to give to the Moravian Sisters in support of their missionary 
enterprise. They carefully chose their toys and duly carried them 
to the Sisters. But when they returned Nietzsche was restless and 
unhappy. His sister asked what ailed him. " I have done a very 
wicked thing," the boy answered. " My fine box of cavalry is my 
favourite toy and my best : I should have taken that ! " " But do 
you think," his sister asked, " do you think God always wants our 
best ? " " Yes," replied the young philosopher, " always, always ! " 
The lad was then, at least, following a true instinct. Professor 
William James, in his Lecture to Teachers on " The Stream of 
Consciousness," says that every object is either "focal" or 
"marginal" in the mind. That represents with psychological 
precision the difference between the sanctities of life as they 
appeared to my Syrian bushman [who made a god out of only 
" the residue " of the tree he had felled] and the sanctities of life 
as they appeared to the boy philosopher. In the one case they 
were merely marginal; in the other they were grandly focal. 
Surely, if they have a place at all, they should be in the very 
centre of the field — regal, transcendent, sublime. The whole 
matter is summed up there.^ 

3. Of course the ideals of Christ and the world are not 
opposed as good and bad, or as right and wrong, but as first and 
second. It is a total misapprehension of our Lord's words to say 
that He forbids His followers to think of getting the wealth of 
the world, or of securing " what they shall eat and drink or 
wherewithal they shall be clothed." Men's fault and folly lie in 
' F. W. Boreham, Mountains in the Mist, 66. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. ss 169 

seeking them as if they were primary and essential ; in making 
them the treasures of the soul ; in thinking of them with anxious 
and absorbing care, as if they supplied the supreme need of life. 
The Kingdom of God is not set in opposition to the things of the 
world for which men seek ; it is set above them. It belongs to a 
realm that is higher than the physical and the material. It 
has to do with the essential life of man — a life that is more than 
existence, more than meat, more than riches. Man is a child of 
earth and time, but he is also a child of God — a spiritual being, 
made in His image, with power to think His thoughts and live 
in fellowship with Him. All thought and effort which are 
dominated by a lower conception of man's nature are misdirected. 
They leave him unsatisfied and undeveloped. The riddle of our 
life is never solved until we say, " Thou hast made us for Thyself, 
and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." 

^ It is as if a company of sculptors should spend all their 
time and effort providing pedestals, — some able to get only rough 
boulders from the wayside, others polishing and finishing fine 
shafts of purest marble, — but nobody thinking of carving a statue 
to set thereon. Or as if a company of painters busied themselves 
exclusively with finding and stretching their canvases, some 
getting only coarse sacking, others silks of the finest web, — but 
nobody ever painted a picture. Now Jesus is saying here, " Don't 
bother so much about the pedestals and the canvases. They are 
absolutely insignificant beside the statues and the pictures. These 
are the paramount concern." The roughest boulder that carries 
a noble statue is better than the finest shaft of polished marble 
that carries nothing. The coarsest sacking upon which some rude 
but great etching has been sketched is better than the most 
delicate silk which is absolutely blank. So the meagrest living 
upon which a life of human service and spiritual significance is 
built is infinitely better than the most luxurious existence which 
but cumbers the ground with its purposeless and useless occupancy 
of space and time.^ 

4. Jesus is asking men to do what He did Himself. He knew 
the numberless spiritual perils of poverty. He suffered hunger, 
and had power to make the stones of the wilderness bread. But 
to use His power in that way would have shown that He put 
self before God, and the satisfying of hunger before the interests 

' C. D. Williams, A Valid Christmnity for To-Day, 281. 


of His Kingdom. He saw that " life is more than meat," that 
"man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro - 
ceedeth out of the mouth of God." He set the Kingdom first, 
and the angels ministered unto Him. Because He was tempted 
thus He is able to succour those who are tempted by the same 
pressure of need. It is in divinest pity that He says to the poor, 
" Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness ; and all these 
things shall be added unto you." He knew the tragedies of the 
souls of men, knew how the soul could be lost in the strong and 
urgent pressure of the demands of the body. Therefore He spoke 
so convincingly and so persuasively of the Heavenly Father's 
care, and gave the great assurance of His loving watchfulness. 
To Him man is dearer than to himself. He bids men trust 
God to provide what they need for the body, and give their 
anxiety and strength to the doing of His will. God will not 
deny Himself. Faithfulness on our part will be answered by 
faithfulness on His. His name has ever been " Jehovah-jireh " : 
" The Lord will provide." If men seek first the Kingdom of God, 
He will not fail to add " all these things." 

TI Trust in God, an unshaken confidence in God, which is 
never dismayed at the changes or surprises of life — he who has 
this faith will not be distracted by anxious care concerning the 
things of this life. He will make God the supreme object of his 
choice and service, will seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, 
confident that the Father, who knows all his needs, will confer 
the minor benefits. This confidence that God will approve and 
bless us in all our life if we seek first His Kingdom and righteous- 
ness, and seek all other things second, is the faith which " removes 
mountains " (Mark xi. 23) ; it is adequate to the greatest difficulties 
and perplexities of life. It steadies, strengthens, and unifies all 
our efforts, preventing us from wasting our energies by dividing 
life between two inconsistent objects, and from wearing our hearts 
out by corroding cares, needless anxieties, and unbelieving fears. 
There can be no doubt that Jesus would include this concentra- 
tion of life upon spiritual good and the trustful spirit which it 
inspires, in that love to God which comprises all forms of service 
which we can render to Him.^ 

' G. B. Steyens, Theology of the New Testament, 110, 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 171 


All these Things. 

1. The possession of the Kingdom carries with it every need- 
ful thing. All values are included in the Divine. Within the 
Kingdom is absolute beauty, " the altogether lovely," and if you 
seek for that the beautiful must come to you. Within the 
Kingdom is absolute truth, and if you seek for that the true will 
come to you in the process. And if you do with all your might 
whatsoever your hands find to do, and do it for the highest 
end, those necessaries of life which money can buy will also come 
to you. Good workers who live for the Kingdom never lack 
bread. It is true that often the very best of them get nothing 
but bread, or " bread and salt," whilst those who care nothing for 
the Kingdom get bread and many things besides. But as Lewis 
Morris puts it, "Strong souls need little more than bread and 
truth and beauty." 

Strong souls within the present live; 
The future veiled, — the past forgot; 
Grasping what is, with thews of steel. 
They bend what shall be, to their will; 
And blind alike to doubt and dread, 
The End, for- which they are, fulfil. 

And it was to make strong souls that Jesus came. 

Tf There is a story in the " Arabian Nights " of a prince who 
brought to the king, his father, a fairy tent folded into the con- 
fines of a walnut shell. When it was spread in the council chamber 
it sheltered the king and his counsellors. When taken out and 
spread in the courtyard, it provided shade for all the household. 
When taken out on the great plain, where the army were en- 
camped, it grew until all the hosts were beneath its canopy. It 
had flexibility and expansiveness which were indefinite. That 
gives us a fair symbol of the expansive, co-ordinating, all-inclusive 
capacity of the Kingdom of God, which gathers into its confines 
all the needs and all the treasures of men.^ 

2. There are many things which we get by aiming beyond 
them. Philosophers of the world tell us that we should aim at 

1 W. MaoMiillen. 


what is near and tangible, and should not concern ourselves with 
what is shadowy and remote; that to talk of and aim at such 
things as God's love and God's righteousness and a high and 
chivalrous rule of duty is wasting our time on things not within 
our reach. Now, that these high and far things are indefinite and 
misty to us at times is granted. If you get into argument with 
some philosopher of the lower school he can easily show you that 
his aims are more practical, as he calls it, that the things he aims 
at are more clearly in his view. But how if the Divine law holds 
good in spite of his practical philosophy ; how, if by aiming at 
what we admit is remote and dim, we make sure of getting all 
that is really worth having in these everyday things ? When we 
have aimed at getting reputation we have missed it ; when we 
have aimed at doing duty and helping man the reputation has 
come. Have we never found this law holding good even in the 
struggles of our inner life ? When we fought with a number of 
small faults we made little progress. When we aimed at some 
high, self-devoted goal beyond, they disappeared. The other 
things were added. When men fire the rocket of the life-saving 
apparatus out to a ship, they aim, not at the deck, but considerably 
above it. 

^ A woodsman wielding his axe swings it upward to lop off 
the heavy branch, but finds it hard work. His skyward strokes 
are feeble, for the law of gravitation operates against him and to a 
certain extent neutralizes the power of his arm. He next swings 
it downward, and every stroke makes the hills resound. He 
works with and not against the law of gravitation; and the 
power of this central law of creation being added to the 
power of his muscles, he prosecutes his work with energy and 
success. Every stroke has a double power — the power of the 
arm and the power of gravitation. Thus man in pursuit of evil 
proceeds in the teeth of the most potent laws of the Divine 
Government — the odds are all against him, his strokes are all 
upwards; and sooner or later he must be made to feel the 
weariness of wrong-doing. But the good man places himself in 
harmony with the moral law of God, and thus the strength of the 
law be^comes his panoply. His goodness is so far an advantage 
to him and not an impediment. And in prophecy the reign of 
goodness is always associated with the reign of plenty ; when the 
knowledge of God will cover the earth, then and not before will 
a harvest of wheat be reaped upon the tops of the mountains. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 173 

Evil and famine on the one hand, goodness and abundance on the 
other, always go together.^ 

^ A man gifted with powers and capacities for the calling 
desires to become an artist. He will aim high. He tells himself 
that he will not be content with mediocrity, nor allow himself to 
sink to the lower level of other men. Of him it shall not be 

That low man seeks a little thing to do, 
Sees it, and does it. 

Eather will he be one who, if he fail, can cry : 

Better have failed in the high aim, as I, 
Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed. 
As, God be thanked, I do not. 

But how shall he become such a one ? Only when he has stood 
before the great masterpieces of all time, and felt the spirit of 
their creators breathe upon his own. He must enter into their 
mind ; he must feel the nobility of their conceptions touch his 
own faculty of imagination ; he must see the vision of the lesson 
they sought to write upon their canvas; he must catch the 
loftiness and grandeur of the spirit that animated them. And 
what follows ? In proportion as these things enter into his soul, 
possess his faculties, transfuse their own powers into his, will 
success and greatness meet him. Had he sought success and 
greatness for themselves alone he would have failed ; but, seeking 
first the spirit of a Master's mind, " all these things have been 
added unto him." * 

3. It is only when our hearts are on the chief thing that 
secondary things yield pleasure. It is possible to have a thing, 
and yet not to have the good of it. There it is in our hands, the 
very thing we wanted apparently, and yet it does not seem to be 
the thing we wanted. It is not the thing, but the aroma of 
pleasure that is in the thing that we really wish ; just as we wish 
a rose for its smell. Now, pleasure is a very delicate article. 
Men miss pleasure by the ways they take to get it. If they snatch 
impatiently at it, it escapes them. Except those in actual destitu- 
tion, professional pleasure-seekers are the most miserable of men. 
People who spend their life in pursuit of pleasure never get it. 
One who knew about these things very well said, " Pleasures are 
' J. 0. Jones. * Gr. Niokson. 


like poppies spread; you seize the flower; its bloom is shed." 
We go to some of the most beautiful objects in nature. If we 
happen to take them in a wrong light, on a bad day, at a false 
angle, they lose all their beauty. Or if we are trying to experi- 
ence some pleasant sensation, the least thing wrong with our 
health, the least thing amiss with the experiment we make, 
spoils all. The poise of our mind is everything. Pleasure comes 
when we are seeking something else, when we are rejoicing in 
hard work, when we are resting after long exertion, when we 
have won some worthy object of ambition. The true flower of 
satisfaction is thrown into our lap by an invisible hand when we 
are thinking little or nothing of it. 

TJ One of the first and most clearly recognized rules to be 
observed is that happiness is most likely to be attained when it 
is not the direct object of pursuit. Both the greatest pleasures 
and the keenest pains of life lie much more in those humbler 
spheres which are accessible to all than on the rare pinnacles 
to which only the most gifted or the most fortunate can attain. 
It would probably be found upon examination that most men 
who have devoted their lives successfully to great labours and 
ambitions, and who have received the most splendid gifts from 
Fortune, have nevertheless found their chief pleasure in things 
unconnected with their main pursuits and generally within the 
reach of common men. Domestic pleasures, pleasures of scenery, 
pleasures of reading, pleasures of travel or of sport, have been the 
highest enjoyment of men of great ambition, intellect, wealth, and 

Oh righteous doom, that they who make 

Pleasure their only end. 
Ordering the whole life for its sake. 

Miss that whereto they tend.^ 

4. The things we wish to have are not really in our hands 
at all. Suppose that when we grasped the thing we could make 
certain that the pleasure for the sake of which we grasped it 
would not evaporate in the process, how could we make sure of 
grasping it ? It might be taken from us when we were within a 
few inches of it. The things for which men toil and suffer are 
often taken from them in this way. The things the Gentiles 

1 W. E. H. Leokie, The Map of Life, 19. 
« E. C. Trench. 

ST. MATTHEW vi. 33 175 

seek can never be in our hands. They remain in God's hands. 
They are always His, and not ours at all. They are like old 
illuminated manuscripts or curiosities which you see on the 
table of a museum or library. We may examine them, and read 
them, but we cannot take them away. We cannot acquire free- 
hold rights on God's great estate. We are only tenants at will, and 
therefore what we should first do is to gain the goodwill of the Pro- 
prietor, especially as it is a great deal more than His goodwill which 
He offers us. He offers us His love and Himself, and it stands to 
reason that " all these things " will be thrown into the bargain. 

TJ It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by 
caring very much about our own narrow pleasures. We can only 
have the highest happiness by having wide thoughts, and much 
feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves ; and this 
sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it, that we can 
only tell it from pain by its being what we would choose before 
everything else, because our souls see it is good. There are so 
many things wrong and difficult in the world, that no man can be 
great — he can hardly keep himself from wickedness — unless he 
gives up thinking much about pleasure or rewards, and gets 
strength to endure what is hard and painful. And so, if you 
mean to act nobly and seek to know the best things God has put 
within reach of men, you must learn to fix your mind on that end, 
and not on what will happen to you because of it. And re- 
member, if you were to choose something lower, and make it the 
rule of your life to seek your own pleasure and escape from what 
is disagreeable, calamity might come just the same ; and it would 
be calamity falling on a base mind, which is the one form of sorrow 
that has no balm in it, and that may well make a man say, — " It 
would have been better for me if I had never been born." ^ 

^ This is the sovereign remedy : to believe utterly in the 
Heavenly Father's love and wisdom and make His Kingdom and 
His righteousness the supreme concerns, leaving all lesser interests 
in His hands. " Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness ; 
and all these things shall be added unto you." Here is the secret 
of a quiet heart. " Nothing," says St. Chrysostom, " makes men 
light-hearted like deliverance from care and anxiety, especially 
when they may be delivered therefrom without suffering any 
disadvantage, forasmuch as God is with them and stands them in 
lieu of all." a 

^ George Eliot, Epilogue to Bomola. 

' David Smith, The Days ofEis Flesh, 295. 


Oh, if we draw a circle premature, 

Heedless of far gain, 
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure 

Bad is our bargain! 
Was it not great ? did not he throw on God, 

(He loves the burthen) — 
God's task to make the heavenly period 

Perfect the earthen ? 
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear 

Just what it all meant ? 
He would not discount life, as fools do here. 

Paid by instalment! 
He ventured neck or nothing — Heaven's success 

Found, or earth's failure: 
" Wilt thou trust death or not ? " He answered " Yes 

Hence with life's pale lure!"^ 

' Browning, A Grwmmaricm's Funeral, 

The Golden Eulb. 

ST. MATT. — 13 


Balmforth (E.), The New Testament in the Light of the Higher Criticism, 

Bonar (H.), God's Way of Holiness, 104. 
Chadwick (W. E.), Christ and Everyday Life, 103. 
DavieB (J. LI.), Social Questions, 97. 
Fox (W. J.), Collected Works, iii. 155. 
Goodwin (H.), Parish Sermons, iv. 196. 
Home (C. S.), The Model Citizen, 136. 
Meyer (F. B.), The Directory of the Devout Life, 179. 
Pearson (A.), Christus Magister, 249. 
Eutherford (J. S.), The Seriousness of Life, 97. 
Sadler (T.), Sermons for Children, 93. 
Seeker (T.), Sermons, vii. 243. 
Smith (W. C), The Sermon on the Mount, 292. 
Snell (H. H.), Through Study Windows, 27. 
Swing (D.), Truths for To-Day, i. 31. 
Talmage (T. de W.), Sermons, v. 144. 
Christian World Pulpit, xiii. 12 (E. W. Shalders) ; xliv. 329 (E. A. 

Church of England Pulpit, xlviii. 13 (J. Eeid). 
Churchman's Pulpit : Sermona to the Young, xvL 472 (C. E. Eenna- 

Twentieth-Ceniury Pastor, xxxii. (1912-13) 130 (N. D. Hillia). 


The Golden Rule. 

All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, 
even so do ye also unto them : for this is the law and the prophets. — Matt. 
vii. 12. 

1. Perhaps no days have been more ingenious and industrious 
than our own in the endeavour to discover working principles and 
methods for everyday conduct. One that aroused much interest 
was contained ia the phrase, " What would Jesus do ? " It is a 
noble question, but its defect for the purpose for which it is 
devised is that the answer is not always either easy or obvious. It is 
an old instruction in dealing with your neighbour to put yourself 
in his place. It is a less easy thing, if you come to think of it, to 
put somebody else in your place. And when that somebody else 
is one no less august and unique than the Lord Christ Himself, 
the problem is not simplified. It seems sometimes as if this 
eagerness for a new formula of conduct springs from despair of 
the old. But perhaps it would be truer and fairer to say that it 
springs from ignorance of the old, springs from failure really to 
grasp and clearly to investigate the content of the old. There is 
no need to discover any new formula for the regulation of conduct. 
All legal and prophetic, all casuistical and spiritual wisdom still 
stands summarized and complete in the Golden Eule. It is the 
pith and marrow of all ethics; and obedience to it is the final 
achievement of all religion. 

2. The word " therefore " in the text would seem to give it a 
connexion with what precedes, and it will be instructive to inquire 
the meaning of this connexion. Now if we look at the context, we 
shall find that at the seventh verse of the chapter the Lord com- 
menced a new division of His sermon, of which division the text is 
the conclusion. He is speaking of prayer. He says, " Ask, and it 
shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be 



opened unto you " ; and then He goes on to enforce the duty of 
prayer by reference to our own conduct towards our children, draw- 
ing the very plain conclusion that, if we with all our infirmities still 
answer our children's prayers, much more will our Heavenly Father 
give good things to those who ask Him : up to this point all is clear 
and easy, but then follow apparently somewhat abruptly the words 
of the text, " All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men 
should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them : for this is 
the law and the prophets." How do these words hang on to 
the preceding part of the discourse ? We shall understand this if 
we observe that in the exhortation to prayer in the context our 
Lord is in reality only taking up a point in the former part of His 
sermon ; it is in the preceding chapter that He first introduces 
the subject of prayer, and in it He not only gives directions 
concerning prayer in general, but utters that particular form of 
prayer which has been used by His disciples ever since, known as 
the Lord's Prayer. Now if we look to this prayer, and then 
regard the clause of which the text forms the last verse as a 
recurrence to the same subject, we shall be able to understand 
why Christ began His Golden Eule with a "therefore," and so 
made it to hang upon what He had already said : for our Lord 
teaches us in His prayer to make our own conduct towards our 
brethren the measure of the grace which we venture to ask of 
God : " forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them who trespass 
against us," — forgive us so, and only so — and this being the ground 
upon which we ask for forgiveness of sins, it is not to be much 
wondered at that He who taught us thus to pray should also 
teach us to be careful, lest our own conduct should condemn us 
and prevent our prayers from being heard ; in fact, if we pray to 
God to dea,l with us as we deal with others, it is a necessary 
caution that we should be taught to deal with our neighbours 
as we would wish them to deal with us. 

^ The principle here enunciated is fwndamental, underpinning 
the whole structure of human society. It is equitable, because all 
men are more nearly on an equality than might be inferred from 
a consideration of their outward circumstances. It is portable, 
" like the two-foot rule " which the artisan carries in his pocket 
for the measurement of any work which he may be called to 
estimate. The Emperor Severus was so charmed by the excellence 
of this rule that he ordered a crier to repeat it whenever he had 

ST. MATTHEW vit. 12 181 

occasion to punish any person, and he caused it to be inscribed on 
the most notable parts of the palace, and on many of the public 


The History of the Peecept. 

1. The words of the text are old and familiar. We learn from 
our infancy to say, " My duty towards my neighbour is to love 
him as myself, and to do to all men as I would they should 
do unto me." All Christians accept this as an elementary and 
fundamental maxim of their religion. But not only are these 
words not new to ourselves in this age of Chistendom ; they were 
by no means altogether new to the world when our Lord spoke 
them. Parallels to them lean be found in heathen philosophers, in 
the sacred books of other religions. The maxim may justly be 
regarded as human and universal, rather than as specifically 

Christ not only did not claim for the precept any originality, 
but He expressly disclaimed it ; He gave this as the sanction of 
the rule, that it was " the law and the prophets," that is to say, 
that all the precepts which had been given of old concerning our 
conduct one towards another were briefly comprehended in this 
one saying, that we should do to all men as we would that they 
should do to ourselves ; the Lord gave this as a key to the whole, 
and would have us to understand that if we once master this 
great principle, and make it the real principle of our conduct, all 
particular duties will be easily, and as a matter of course, per- 
formed. And so St. Paul represents the matter. He says, " He 
that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this. Thou shalt 
not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, 
Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet ; and if 
there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehended in 
this saying, namely. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour : therefore love is the fulfil- 
ling of the law." What Christ did, then, was to bring together 
scattered duties under one general head and supply a principle 
which should be applicable to them all. 

1 P. B. Meyer, The Directory of the Devout Life, 179. 


II In Confucius this Divine instinct of the soul began to 
break forth in history. He said, "You must not do to others 
what you would not they should do to you." This was only a 
refrain. It was a rule telling us what to avoid doing. The 
grand old Plato went further, and in a kind of prayer says, in the 
eleventh book of his Dialogues, " May I, being of sound mind, do 
to others as I would that they should do to me." ^ 

^ A Gentile inquirer — so the Talmudic story runs — came one 
day to the great Shammai, and demanded to be taught the law, 
condensed to a sentence, while he stood on one foot. In anger 
the Eabbi smote him with his staff and turned away, and the 
questioner went to Hillel, and Hillel made answer, " Whatsoever 
thou wouldest that men should not do to thee, that do not thou 
to them. All our law is summed up in that." And the stranger 
forthwith became a proselyte. The best of the Scribes went no 
further than this negative goodness in_^ their approaches to the 
teaching of our Lord. He teaches that love cannot be satisfied 
with this cold abstinence from harm-doing. Active, energetic 
benevolence is the only true outcome of a character which has 
yielded to, and been moulded by, the Divine bounty. Frigid 
negatives satisfy neither Law nor Gospel.^ 

2. Our Lord translated other men's negatives into God's 
positive. Hitherto, the Golden Eule among men had been in the 
merely negative form. " That which is hateful to thyseK do not 
do to thy neighbour " ; that is to say, if thou abstainest from certain 
gross injustices and iniquities, thou hast fulfilled the whole Law. 
It is not in such a saying as that that all the philanthropies and 
humanities of Christianity lie dormant. Those great beneficent 
systems and institutions with which Christian feeling has covered 
this land and so many others are not the outgrowth of a mere 
negative ambition to abstain from insulting or injuring one's 
neighbours. It was Christ's genius that translated the negatives 
of religion into the positives. With Him the " thou shalt nots " 
of the Decalogue became the positive constructive doctrine of the 
ethics of the Sermon on the Mount. 

Each time that we turn to the Gospels we find ourselves 

awed, commanded, moved, as by no other morality. We know 

nothing deeper, nothing more universal, nothing more practical, 

than the laws of human conduct which our Lord clothed in 

> D. Swing, Truths for To-Day, i. 34. 
' A. Pearson, Christus Magister, 261. 

ST. MATTHEW vit I2 1^3 

language intelligible and impressive to His Galilean hearers. 
The gospel morality needs no championship ; it only needs to be 
understood and felt. It has much that is manifestly higher than 
what human wisdom unenlightened by the gospel has ever sug- 
gested ; but it also welcomes and justifies and exalts every good 
idea which has appeared to be independent of it. 

^ By universal consent, if Jesus has any rival it is Buddha ; 
by common consent also Sir Edwin Arnold is the man who went 
through all the Indian literature, sifted out the straw and the 
chaff, gathered up every grain of wheat he could find, and gave it 
to us in that poem, The Light of Asia. Then a few years later 
Sir Edwin re-opened his New Testament, and after a year pub- 
lished The Light of the World. And lo, the disciple of Buddha 
reverses his judgment! With poetic licence Sir Edwin Arnold 
represents the Wise Men of the East as Buddhists, who brought 
their gold and frankincense and offerings to the infant King, and 
left them, and journeyed back to the Ganges. Then, when two- 
score years had passed, one of the Wise Men, still living, retraced 
his steps, fascinated by that memory of the wonderful child. In 
his travels he meets Mary Magdalene, and hears the tragic story 
of the life and death of Jesus. 

After long brooding upon Christ's words, the aged Indian 
priest puts the Light of the World over against the Light of Asia. 
First, Jesus is infinitely superior, because, until Christ spake, 
" never have we known before wisdom so packed and perfect as 
the Lord's, giving that Golden Eule with which this earth were 
heaven." And, second, he finds that Buddha held life was one 
long sorrow ; but " right joyous, though, is Christ's doctrine, glad 
'mid life's sad changes and swift vicissitudes, and death's un- 
shunned and hard perplexities " ; for over against the despair, the 
gloom and the pessimism that makes Buddha propose extinction 
and a dreamless sleep stands the piercing joyousness and out- 
breaking " gladsomeness of the life of Jesus." And, third, the old 
Buddhist finds another round in the golden ladder; if Buddha 
wrapped the universe in darkness and gloomy mystery, "thy 
teacher doth wrap us round in glorious folds with mighty name 
of love, and biddeth us believe, not law, not faith, hath moulded 
what we are, and built the worlds, but living, regnant love," for 
the fury of unharnessed, natural laws, the ferocity of fate, gives 
way before the advancing footprints of a Father of life and love. 
Then comes the priest's final confession. " My teacher bade us 
toil over dead duties, and brood above slain affections, until we 
reached Nirvana; yours, to love one's neighbours as one's self. 


and save his soul by losing heed of it, in needful care that all his 
doings profit men and help the sorrowful to hope, the weak to 

Oh, nearer road, and new ! By heart to see 
Heaven closest in this earth we walk upon, 
God plainest in the brother whom we pass. 
Best solitudes 'midst busy multitudes. 
Passions o'ercome when Master-passion springs 
To serve, and love, and succour.^ 


Its Scope. 

1. The rule does not cover all behaviour and all conduct. It 
has nothing to say of a man's private attitude and relation to 
God. It has nothing to say of our behaviour when we are alone 
— in those times when some men and women are conscious of 
least responsibility, because their thoughts, desires, or actions do 
not bring them into any sort of contact with other people. It is 
therefore not in the nature of spiritual discipline ; it is not given 
to regulate the secret inner life of a man's thoughts and feelings. 
It applies to a man's dealings with his fellows, the multitudinous 
occasions when the orbit of his life intersects the orbits of other 
lives, and these other orbits intersect his ; and thus it clearly con- 
templates that the life of the Christian will be a life necessarily 
rich in social duties and responsibilities and opportunities. 

^ Froude, in his Erasmus, relates a curious incident in the 
life of Ignatius Loyola. Loyola, one day, met with a copy of the 
New Testament. He took it up, opened it, and began to read it. 
But after a short time he threw it down, because, he said, "it 
checked his devotional emotions." Froude thinks it very likely 
did. He found here a religion taught the supreme expression of 
which was in absolute righteousness, truth, and charity. " If any 
man deemeth himself to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, 
is not just, fair, honourable, open, merciful, that man's religion is 
vain." Loyola said this sort of thing checked his devotional 
emotions ! Well, if so, it was high time they were checked. For 
they were running to seed, and not growing, under due discipline, 

' N. D. HilUs. 

ST. MATTHEW vn. 12 185 

to flower and fruit. In the religion of Jesus, the ethical, the 
practical, is the ultimate. To keep the Golden Eule is to fulfil 
the Law and the prophets.^ 

2. Like other general precepts, it will not bear to be taken 
slavishly in the letter. The worth of a precept is rather to 
suggest a temper or attitude of mind than to determine precisely 
what in a given case ought to be done. It is a superficial and 
therefore a bad morality, not merely defective, but unwholesome 
and misleading, that attempts to prescribe for conduct by precise 
regulations. Human life is too free and various to be governed 
by such methods. You may, without any great ingenuity, imagine 
cases in which it would be undesirable and wrong to carry out 
literally our Lord's injunction, " All things whatsoever ye would 
that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them." 
Perhaps the most obvious instance is flattery. There are tens of 
thousands of people who flatter their fellow-men because they like 
it and expect it themselves. And on the principle that you are 
simply to do to others what you wish them to do to you, it is 
unexceptionable. Clearly the criticism is that you ought not 
to wish for flattery yourself ; in other words, to make the Golden 
Eule adequate and true, we must have some guarantee that what 
we wish to receive from others is what we ought so to wish. 

But there is a far more difficult case for the application of the 
Golden Eule than this. Suppose that you have fallen into some 
gross sin, and incurred a very severe punishment, what may we 
assume you would wish that men should do to you ? In ninety- 
nine cases out of a hundred the answer would be, " Let me off the 
penalty." Are we, then, to go on to assume that it is your duty 
to remit all punishment, however deserved, because of your sense 
that you would wish it to be remitted if you were in the wrong- 
doer's place ? The social conscience has said No ; the Christian 
conscience says No. It is not a question of what you might 
happen to wish if you were simply an irresponsible and religiously 
uneducated being, but of what you would wish if you were subject 
to the spirit and discipline of Christianity. In this latter case 
you would wish that your sin should be punished, your offences 
corrected; and consequently you would not do to others an 
1 C. S. Home, TU Model Citizen, 140. 


injustice and call it mercy, because you were weak enough to 
desire it for yourself. 


Its Standard of Duty. 

1. The Golden Eule surpasses all formulas of justice by bring- 
ing the case before our loving, trembling, sensitive self, and 
begging that it be tried in the light and justice of all this light of 
self-love, self-joy, and self-agony. We know how near and dear 
a thing one's own self is. The moment we step away from our 
consciousness we lose our mental grasp upon the phenomenon 
of right or wrong. We can look upon a suffering man, sick or 
wounded, with comparative peace, because our knowledge will not 
travel away from om* own consciousness. We may say, "Poor 
man, poor child, we pity you," but we are so cut off from his pain 
that an infinite gulf lies between our feelings and the sufferer's 
agony. But let that pain, that sickness, that dying, come to self, 
and how quickly the heart measures all the depths of the new 

^ It was reported that one of the victims of the Cuban 
massacre offered a million dollars if the savages would spare 
his life. The death of others, the common calamities of life had 
not filled with tremor that heart naturally brave; the grief of 
death at large had been, as it were, spoken in a foreign language 
not to be understood by him, but now the grim monster was 
coming up against self, it was his heart that was to be pierced with 
balls, not yours, nor mine, but his own, bound to earth, to friends, 
to country, to home and its loved ones ; his was to pour out its 
blood and sink into the awful mystery of the grave. This was the 
vivid measurement of things that made the hero try to buy sun- 
shine and home and sweet life with gold. When it comes to any 
adequate measurement of life's ills or joys, the only line which 
man can lay down upon the unknown is the consciousness within, 
the verdict of this inner self.^ 

2. It has consequently been alleged that this precept falls 
short, as a rule of morality, of what the inspiring principle of a 

' D. Swing, Trvihsfor To-Day, i. 39. 

ST. MATTHEW vii. 12 187 

good man's life ought to be, and what the hest men, in their better 
moments, have really aimed at. It puts, to a man's heart and 
conscience, his fellow-men only on the same level as himself. It 
seems to start from a regard for self, to recognize the claims of 
self. It is a nobler morality — this is what has been alleged — 
that calls upon men to love their neighbours not merely as well 
as, but better than, themselves. To live for others, quite sup- 
pressing and subordinating self, may be the high ideal, the inspir- 
ing principle, of a good man's efforts. Such a man should think, 
not " How should I wish my neighbour to behave towards me ? " 
but " How can I serve my neighbour ? How can I do most good, 
regardless of my own pleasure or interest, to those around me ? " 

Of course the general feeling is that the laws of conduct laid 
down in the Gospels are only too high, too exacting ; that they 
require to be toned down and qualified before they can be applied 
to the practice of ordinary life. The morality of the Sermon on the 
Mount has been regarded as something exceptional, something 
ethereal, that might have suited the first disciples or the saints in 
later ages who have retired from the world, but " too good for 
human nature's daily food." And Christian expositors have 
generally felt called upon to show that the laws of the Kingdom 
of Heaven, as laid down by the Lord Jesus in these discourses, 
were essentially such as men might act upon and ought to act 
upon, though they may seem to enjoin an almost romantic or 
chimerical suppression of self and superiority to the world. Still, 
it is possible to argue that to love my neighbour as myself and 
to do to him as I should wish him to do to me, is a rule which 
assumes that I am caring for myself, and which does not aim at 
doing more than placing my neighbour on a level with myself in 
my estimate of his claims upon me. 

The answer is that the disciple of Jesus Christ is not only to 
love his neighbour as himself, but to love the Lord his God with 
all his heart and soul and mind and strength. And this latter 
commandment, the first and great one, has much to do with a 
man's relations to his fellow-men. It would, we might almost 
say, be enough of itself, if the second were not, for the sake of 
explicitness, added to it. 

H " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," is 
the first and great commandment. Nothing comes before first, 


and nothing can get before this — nothing can take its place. The 
second commandment is, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour " ; but 
you cannot get to the second until you have taken in the first. 
The essential thing in religion is loving God, loving God in Jesus 
Christ. Eeligion begins here. A gospel of love for men, with no 
antecedent love for God, is a gospel without life. But the second 
commandment must always follow the first. Both are essential. 
As love for man counts for nothing if there be not first love for 
God, so love for God, if there be no love for man, is not genuine. 
The fountain of religion is always the love of God in us. But if 
there be the fountain, the well of water springing up in us, there 
will also be streams of water pouring out, rivers flowing forth, to 
cheer, refresh, and bless the land. 

While I love my God the most, I deem 
That I can never love you overmuch: 
I love Him more, so let me love you, too. 
Yea, as I understand it, love is such, 
I cannot love you if I love not Him; 
I cannot love Him if I love not you.^ 

(1) In the first place we notice that this standard imposes 
upon us the duty of doing justice to our neighbour. The desire 
for justice is so universal that we may call it an instinct of 
human nature. What is history, as we find it in every age, but 
one long series of efforts to obtain justice? These efforts have 
been among the strongest of all motive powers towards moral, 
social, political, and religious progress. To-day we are often told 
that we are living in the midst of a social movement of almost 
world-wide scope, and we are also told that the chief cause of 
this movement, the force of which is the principal factor in its 
momentum, is " a passionate desire for justice." This is probably 
true ; but it is also true that apparently many of those who are 
taking a leading part in the movement have by no means a clear 
idea of the exact nature of justice, and that they have a still less 
clear conception of the conditions which must be fulfilled in order 
to obtain it. History teaches us that far too often justice appears 
to mean the redressing of any injustice which people themselves 
may suffer, by inflicting some injustice upon others. Thus the 
object is defeated by the means employed to attain it. 

To dispense justice one must be possessed of the cultivated 
' J. E. MUler, The Blossom of Thorns, 224. 

ST. MATTHEW vii. 12 189 

attributes of manhood. A kind heart and a desire to do good are 
a very insufficient equipment with which to take our neighbour's 
affairs into our own hands. We require far more equipment than 
these, if we are to treat him with the justice which is his due. 
What we must remember is that the text requires a very strong 
qualification, one doubtless assumed by Christ, and one which 
must not be forgotten by us. Thus it should be read, " All things 
therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do imto you (if 
you were equipped with full knowledge to perceive and skill as 
perfect as possible to decide what was best for you), even so do also 
unto them, for to enable you to do this is the purpose and the 
object of the whole course of Divine revelation." 

Tf The one divine work, the one ordered sacrifice is to do 
justice; and it is the last we are ever inclined to do. . . . Do 
justice to your brother (you can do that whether you love him or 
not), and you will come to love him. But do injustice to him, 
because you don't love him, and you will come to hate him.* 

11 When Napoleon, with his companions, was climbing the steep 
defile of St. Helena they met a peasant with a bundle of faggots 
upon his head. The aide-de-camp signalled to the peasant to step 
aside. But Napoleon rebuked his officer, exclaiming, "Eespect 
the burden ! Eespect the burden ! " It was the sense of justice 
that was voiced in these words of the soldier, for Napoleon had 
been himself a peasant boy, and he wished to do to a burden- 
bearer that which he had asked others to do for him when as a 
child he carried his bundle of faggots down the mountain side.^ 

(2) But, in the second place, the Christian must not draw the 
line at justice; he must exercise mercy and forbearance. God 
has made us neighbours of hundreds and thousands in this land — 
the poor, the degraded, the unattractive; the crippled and the 
handicapped, the diseased and the infirm; children sufferers, 
adult sufferers; lives suddenly broken, seemingly spoiled and 
ruined by accident, lives suddenly menaced by internal disorder, 
bright lives blighted, strong lives emaciated. We think of some 
for whom life has suddenly resolved itself into a condemned cell, 
with nothing to look forward to but dying ; the great army of the 
incurable waiting, some with smiles of brave anticipation, some 
with sobs of weakness and despair, the inevitable hour. Yes, 

> Ruskin, The Crown of Wild Olive, § 39 {Works, xviii. 420). 
» N. D. Hillis. 


God has made these our neighbours. And if we were in their 
place ! If we were the condemned, the pain-stricken, the crippled, 
the diseased, and they were here to-day in our places, in health 
and hope, what should we wish that men should do for us ? The 
question answers itself. We should long that all that skill and 
care and comfort and kindness can do should be done for us in 
our lamentable lot. If a man lives a dissolute life, and nature 
begins to exact her penalties and wrecks the physical frame, we 
maintain a costly staff of physicians and an expensive system of 
hospitals to stand between that man and the direct consequences 
of his evil living. Logically, that is indefensible. But there are 
higher principles in life than the merely logical. And we have con- 
cluded that life is so sacred, and its opportunities are so precious, 
that we will direct all our skill and all our care to enlarging and 
extending life's opportunities for every man, even for the worst. 

^ There are vessels on our seas that bear an ill name, and 
have an evil notoriety. But let the worst of these run upon the 
rocks, and the men of your lifeboats will not stay to haggle about 
character and deserts. They will do for the worst what they 
would do for the best. Such is the inspiring influence of our Chris- 
tian conception. Christ Himself died for an evil world that was 
in peril of shipwreck.^ 

3. It is not too much to say that the spirit of the Golden 
Kule created a new atmosphere for the world. But it needed to 
be illumined and reinforced, and this our Lord proceeded to do. 
If the Golden Eule is the high-water mark of the other teaching, it 
is the lowest round in the ladder which Christ begins to climb. 
Where the other teachers stopped on the hill of aspiration and 
difficulty, Jesus begins, and rushes on and up to hitherto undreamed- 
of heights. At the beginning of His ministry He said, " Do unto 
others as you would have others do unto you." After three years 
of self-abnegating service He parted the curtains, and showed 
them the heights where perfect love had her dwelling-place, from 
which she beckoned men out of the low plains of selfishness up to 
the realms where perfect truth and beauty have their dwelling- 
place. " A new commandment I give unto you " — that abrogates 
that lower Golden Rule — " that ye love one another, as I have loved 
you." The Golden Kule was a mere embodiment of absolute 

' 0. S. Home, The Model OUiaen, 148. 

ST. MATTHEW vii. 12 191 

justice; Christ proposes to break the alabaster box of love 
unmerited and undeserved. " As I have loved you " — what word 
is this? For three years He had shown them the pattern of 
earth's most glorious friendship. Jesus has not done unto the 
Twelve simply and alone what He would have the Twelve do 
unto Him. He has done more. Peter denies His Master, and 
Jesus stretches forth His hand and draws Peter up out of the 
abyss, and gives the sceptre of power and the keys of influence 
into Peter's hand. 

^ The solid blocks or tables on which the Ten Commandments 
were written were of the granite rock of Sinai, as if to teach 
us that all the great laws of duty to God and duty to man were 
like that oldest primeval foundation of the world — more solid, 
more enduring than all the other strata; cutting across all the 
secondary and artificial distinctions of mankind ; heaving itself up, 
now here, now there ; throwing up the fantastic crag, there the 
towering peak, here the long range which unites or divides the 
races of mankind. That is the universal, everlasting character of 
Duty. But as that granite rock itself has been fused and wrought 
together by a central fire, without which it could not have 
existed at all, so also the Christian law of Duty, in order to 
perform fully its work in the world, must have been warmed at 
the heart and fed at the source by a central fire of its own — and 
that central fire is Love — the gracious, kindly, generous, admiring, 
tender movements of the human affections ; and that central fire 
itself is kept alive by the consciousness that there has been in the 
world a Love beyond all human love, a devouring fire of Divine 
enthusiasm on behalf of our race, which is the Love of Christ, 
which is of the inmost essence of the Holy Spirit of God. It is 
not contrary to the Ten Commandments. It is not outside of 
them, it is within them ; it is at their core ; it is wrapped up in 
them, as the particles of the central heat of the globe were encased 
within the granite tables in the Ark of Temple.^ 

' A. P. Stanley, History of the Church of Scotland, 8. 

Choosing a Eoad. 

ST. MATT. — 13 


Bersier (E.), Twelve Sermons, 19. 

Blunt (J. J.), Plain Sermons, i. 337. 

Campbell (J. M.), Sermons and Lectures, i. 41. 

Chafer (L. S.), True Evangelism, 54. 

Dods (M.), Christ and Man, 200. 

Goodrich (A.), in The Sermon on the Mount, iii. 195. 

Gunsaulus (F. W.), Paths to the City of God, 70. 

Hutton (J. A.), At Close Quwrters, 181. 

Jones (J. D.), The Unfettered Word, 101. 

McAfee (0. B.), Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 163. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : Matthew i.-viii., 342. 

Maopheraon (W. M.), The Path of Life, 64. 

Manning (H. E.), Sermons, i. 77. 

Matheson (G.), Messages of Hope, 42. 

Morison (J.), A Practical Commentary on the Gospel according to 

St. Matthew, 110. 
Parker (J.), The City Temple, ii. 169. 
Pearson (A.), Christus Magister, 264. 
Pierson (A. T.), The Making of a Sermon, 54. 
Kaleigh (A.), From Dawn to the Perfect Day, 62. 
Smith (W. C), The Sermon on the Mount, 308. 
Southouae (A. J.), The Men of the Beatitudes, 203. 
Stuart (A. M.), The Path of the Redeemed, 1. 
Tait (A.), The Charter of Christianity, 565. 
Thorne (H.), Notable Sayings of the Great Teacher, 49. 
Wilson (R.), The Great Salvation, 185. 
Christian World Pulpit, xliii. 6 (D. M. Rosa) ; liv. 136 (M. Dads) ; 

Ivii. 113 (J. Stalker); lix. 171 (C. Gore). 


Choosing a Road. 

Enter ye in by the narrow gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the 
way, that leadeth to destruction, and many be they that enter in thereby. 
For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and 
few be they that find it.— Matt vii. 13, 14. 

1. There is a certain inevitable movement of human beings 
implied in the whole of this passage. Our Lord regards the 
multitudes around Him as all in motion — none quiescent, none 
fixed and centred. This transiency and mutability of human life 
can neither be doubted nor denied. We are not dwellers, we are 
travellers. We are all on the way, staff in hand, loins girt, the 
dust on our sandals. 

And the myriad feet are echoing that trod the way before 
In a vague and restless music evermore. 

Ahead of us there is the cloud of a vast company travelling; 
behind, the clamour of those who follow in our track ; each one 
pressing forward, never resting, not in sleep, not in daytime, not 
in stillest night. 

2. Similarly, moral progress is also constant. This is a far 
more serious and important kind of progress. If we could stay 
our spirits amid this universal vicissitude, and keep them in fixed 
conditions, the outward change would be of less moment. But 
the moral progress is as constant as, and infinitely more important 
than, any change that can be apprehended by the senses. This 
is the tremendous thing, that each one of us is being saved or 
lost, that each one is putting on the image of God, the eternal 
beauty, and wearing more and more the everlasting strength, or 
losing both, falling into vileness and weakness, although it may 
be by slow or even imperceptible degrees. It is a solemn thought 
that the one process or the other is going on in every one of us, 
without the intermission of a day or an hour. Our souls as well 



as our bodies are on pilgrimage ; our spirits as well as our feet are 
on the way. And here the question arises: What way? How 
many are there to choose from ? Two ; only two. The way of 
the many or the way of the few. 


The Way of the Many. 

The world speaks of numerous ways. It specially favours a 
via media. But here our Lord, with more than a touch of 
austerity in His tone, declares there is no middle way. He puts 
the antithesis sharply and nakedly. There is a wide gate, and 
there is a narrow gate; there is a broad way, and there is a 
straitened way ; and there are just two ends, destruction and life. 
At one or other of these ends every man shall arrive, and what 
end it will be depends upon the road he travels. 

1. The entrance is wide. — We have taken the broad way first, if 
for no other reason than that it is the broad way. It is the most 
manifest and obtrusive, and the nearest to us naturally. Let us 
begin at the beginning of it. It has a gate. A gate is a place 
of entrance — to a city, or a field, or a country. As a religious 
term it means the beginning of a course or onward career. Being 
a figure, there is no need to attach to it a narrow inelastic mean- 
ing, but it does point to the great moral truth that there are 
critical and decisive points in life to which men come. There 
are gates of decision, narrow or wide, through which they pass 
into the course that lies within. It might indeed be said that 
we enter upon the broad way when we are born : that birth is 
the wide gate, and natural life the broad way. There is truth in 
that ; but it is only a half truth. It is also true that we may be 
born in the narrow way, may pass, as it were, through the strait 
gate in our nurture as infants ; we may tread the narrow way in 
our Christian training, and leave it only by our own act and 
choice. Manifestly, our Lord is not entering here upon that 
question. He is speaking to reasonable and responsible men of 
their acts of choice, in the decisive times and places in life. He 
is speaking of the entering in at either gate of those who know 

ST. MATTHEW vn. 13, 14 197 

that they so enter. And yet the knowledge may not be very 
express or clear. From want of reflection, from want of observ- 
ance of the real character and consequences of things, men may 
go on from youth to age without being aware that they pass 
through " gates " at all. They live as they list, or as they can. 
They take life as it comes, and they are not conscious of points 
of transition. They see no gates in life, pass through none to 
their own consciousness. To-day is as yesterday, and to-morrow 
will be as to-day ! All this is consistent with the spirit of the 
passage " wide is the gate." One may go through it and hardly 
know it is there. No one needs to jostle another in passing 
through. No one needs to ruffle his garments or to lay anything 
aside or to leave anything behind ; no one needs to part from his 
compaiiions ; all can enter together, for the gate is wide. 

^ The pangs of pity which Dante's sensitive soul feels for 
the forlorn and tormented spirits in the Inferno serve to show 
how intense is his conviction that nothing can set aside the laws 
of eternal right. Francesca will arouse in him infinite and over- 
whelming compassion, but Francesca must face the withering 
tempest which her fault has aroused against her. Mr. J. A. 
Symonds expressed his wonder that Dante should be so hard 
and pitiless in his judgment upon the weaklings who hesitated 
to identify themselves on either side in the great battle of all 
time. Others may have felt that the harsh contempt expressed 
by the poet was out of proportion to a fault which might be 
called weakness, but never vice; but to Dante the cowardice 
which refused the call of high duty or noble ideal was sin almost 
beyond forgiveness: it revealed a spirit dead to righteousness 
through the paralysing influence of self-interest.^ 

2. The way is broad. — If there is amplitude even at the 
entrance, or at the critical points of life when the gates are 
passed, we may well expect that there will be space, and allow- 
ance, and freedom in the way. All kinds of persons may walk 
in it. The man of the world may work out his schemes, gather 
his money, and achieve his position. The pleasure-seeker may 
eat and drink and dance and sleep and sing. The sensual 
man who kills his moral life and vilifies the Divine image within 
him may pass on unchecked. The formalist may count his 
beads and say his prayers. The Pharisee may draw his garments 
^ W. Boyd Carpenter, The Spiritual Message of Dante, 33. 


away from the sinner's touch. The sceptic may think his doubt- 
ing thought^; and the crowds of persons who never think, who 
live without a purpose, who do good or evil as the case may be, 
may all find a place here. 

^ There is a wide gate. It opens into a broad way. But the 
broad way leads to destruction. The idea of an enclosure, a 
place enclosed within a wall, lies at the basis of the representa- 
tion. One might have supposed, from the spacious entrance, 
that the way would conduct to some magnificent home, a palace 
of beauty and of bliss. But no. It leads to destruction, to some 
kind of everlasting death. What may this broad way be, with 
its wide gate ? It is doubtless the way of self -licence, of that 
self-gratification which is determined to take a wide berth for 
itself, spurning Divine prohibitions, and laughing at the limits 
of a strict and narrow morality. It is the way of things that is 
counter to the way and will of Christ. There were many in 
Christ's day "entering in through it." There are still many. 
The multitude still goes that way. He who would be a Christian 
must still be somewhat singular in his habits and manner of life.^ 

3. It leads to destruction. — All who journey upon the broad 
way come at last to its conclusion. And what do they find ? 
Life ? Happiness ? Peace ? They find destruction. Destruc- 
tion ! Destruction of our higher sentiments, of the peace of our 
conscience, of the life of our spirit ! Destruction of our faith, our 
love, our hope, of our character, of our soul. Destruction ! The 
pains of the final condemnation of God, of banishment from His 
presence into the darkness unutterable, into the penal fires of 
self-reproach and remorse. 

By a natural law man leans towards destruction. It may be 
called the gravitation of a fallen being. Let a man only be at 
ease in himself, satisfied with what he is, and consent to the 
usurping customs of the world, drawing in the unwholesome 
breath of refined evil, and letting his moral inclination run its 
natural course, without check or stay, and he will most surely 
tide onward, with an easy and gentle motion, down the broad 
current to eternal death. Such a man is seldom strongly 
tempted. The less marked solicitations of the tempter are enough. 
The suggestion of a great sin might rouse his conscience, and 
scare him from the toils. We may take this, then, as a most 

^ James Morison. 

ST. MATTHEW vii. 13, 14 199 

safe rule, that a feeling of security is a warning to be suspicious, 
and that our safety is to feel the stretch and the energy of a 
continual strife. 

Tj There is an extraordinary confirmation of His teaching 
about the broad way in the attitude of those who among our- 
selves have rejected Christ and His laws. Their thought tends to 
Pessimism ; and so far as they believe anything, they believe in 
extinction — i.e., the broad path leading to destruction. What is 
the attitude of Nietzsche or Max Nordau in Germany? or of 
Daudet, Loti, Guyau in France ? or of Bjornsen and Ibsen in 
Norway ? The way of Jesus is surrendered or rejected, and blank 
destruction stares the thinker in the face.^ 

^ There is in man an instinct of revolt, an enemy of all law, 
a rebel which will stoop to no yoke, not even that of reason, duty, 
and wisdom. This element in us is the root of all sin. The 
independence which is the condition of individuality is at the 
same time the eternal temptation of the individual. That which 
makes us beings makes us also sinners. Sin is, then, in our very 
marrow, it circulates in us like the blood in our veins, it is mingled 
with all our substance. Or rather I am wrong : temptation is our 
natural state, but sin is not necessary. Sin consists in the 
voluntary confusion of the independence which is good with the 
independence which is bad.^ 

But two ways are offered to our will — 
Toil, with rare triumph. Ease, with safe disgrace; 

Nor deem that acts heroic wait on chance! 
The man's whole life preludes the single deed 

That shall decide if his inheritance 
Be with the sifted few of matchless breed, 
Or with the unnoticed herd that only sleep and feed. 


The Way of the Few. 

In reading the Gospels one is often struck with what, for lack 
of a better term, one might call Christ's /raw^w«ss. He makes no 
secret of the conditions of discipleship. He does not attempt to 
deck the Christian life out in gay and attractive colours. On the 

1 R. F. Horton, J'fte Gommcmdments of Jesus, 227. 

2 Amiel's Journal. 


contrary, He scores and underlines and emphasizes its hardships 
and difficulties. He wants no man to follow Him under the 
impression that he is going to have a pleasant and easy time of it. 
And so at the very beginning He confronts him with the " narrow 
gate " of an exacting demand. " If any man would come after 
me," He said, " let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and 
follow me." Self-denial and the cross — these constitute the 
"narrow gate" by which a man enters upon the service of 
Jesus Christ. 

1. The entrance is narrow. — Like the broad way, this way of the 
few has, at its outset, a gate. It is a narrow gate and may be 
taken as expressing the initial act of repentance and the com- 
mencement of a life dedicated to Christ. The entrance into the 
Christian life may aptly be described as a narrow gate, for it is 
a definite and decisive act into which one is not likely to drift 
with a multitude by chance. Like a narrow gate, it may easily 
be overlooked; and the main difficulty of the Christian life is 
perhaps that it escapes notice altogether. Multitudes of people 
seem not to have so much as heard that there is a Christian life. 
They follow the broad path because it is broad, and they never 
notice that unostentatious entrance into the way of life, repentance 
and faith. But, while it is narrow, the gate is broad enough for 
entrance, always provided that one is content to enter stripped 
and unburdened. 

The entrance into the way of life is by the strait gate of 
penitence and renunciation. If men could carry the world along 
with them, if young people could carry their love of pleasure along 
with them, multitudes would crowd into the gate of the Kingdom. 
But to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof is 
too hard a command. To put away the old man with his deeds 
is more than they can bring themselves to do. The gate is 
" narrow." That is why Christ added that solemn word, " Few 
there be that find it." 

^ " Thou didst send for me," said Savonarola to Lorenzo the 
Magnificent, the tyrant of Florence, as he lay on his dying bed. 
" Yes," said Lorenzo, " for three sins lie heavy on my soul," and 
then he told the monk how he was tortured by the remembrance 
of the sack of Volterra, and his robbery of a bank whereby many 
poor girls had lost their all and been driven to a life of shame, 

ST. MATTHEW vn. 13, 14 201 

and the bloody reprisals he took after a political conspiracy 
against him. " God is good," replied Savonarola, " God is merciful. 
But," he at once added, " three things are needful." " What 
things ? " asked Lorenzo anxiously. " First, a great and living 
faith in God's mercy." " I have the fullest faith in it," replied 
the dying man. " Secondly, you must restore all your ill-gotten 
wealth." At this Lorenzo writhed, but at last he gave a nod of 
assent. " Lastly," said Savonarola to the cowering prince, " you 
must restore to Florence her liberty." And Lorenzo angrily 
turned his back upon the preacher and said never a word. The 
gate was too " narrow." ^ 

2. The way also is narrow. — The word used by the Eevisers 
here is " straitened." The figure contemplated is that of " double- 
dykes." There is a path between two properties, each measured 
off with its wall. Both walls approach as closely and compress- 
ingly as possible to the centre of the thoroughfare, which is the 
public " right of way." The " double-dykes " almost meet, and 
there is, at points here and there, bulging on either side, while all 
along loose stones have fallen down, and make the way incon- 
venient, so that the traveller can only painfully and with trouble 
pick his steps as he moves along. It leads, however, to life, that 
is, to everlasting life, to the home of everlasting lliss. Being a 
narrowed way, it will not admit of latitudinarianism of demeanour. 
Neither will it admit of accompanying parade and pomp. It 
would not be possible to drive along it in a coach and six. When 
kings would go by it they must step out of their coaches and 
walk. Princes and peasants must travel there on an equality. 
What is this narrow way? When we get down, through the 
envelopments of imagery, to the real base or essential substrate 
of the representations, we hear the voice of Jesus Himself saying, 
" I am the way ; no man cometh unto the Father " (or " to the 
Father's house") "but by me" (John xiv. 6). As the martyr 
Philpot said, " The cross-way is the high-way to heaven." There 
is no other way. 

][ The word Strait, applied to the entrance into Life, and the 
word Narrow, applied to the road of Life, do not mean that the 
road is so fenced that few can travel it, however much they wish 
(like the entrance to the pit of a theatre), but that, for each 
person, it is at first so stringent, so difficult, and so dull, being 
^ J. D. Jones, Ths Unfettered Word, 106. 


between close hedges, that few will enter it, though all may. In 
a second sense, and an equally vital one, it is not merely a Strait, 
or narrow, but a straight, or right road ; only, in this rightness 
of it, not at all traced by hedges, wall, or telegraph wire, or even 
marked by posts higher than winter's snow ; but, on the contrary, 
often difficult to trace among morasses and mounds of desert, 
even by skilful sight ; and by bhnd persons, entirely untenable 
unless by help of a guide, director, rector, or rex : which you may 
conjecture to be the reason why, when St. Paul's eyes were to be 
opened, out of the darkness which meant only the consciousness 
of utter mistake, to seeing what way he should go, his director 
was ordered to come to him in the " street which is called 
Straight." 1 

(1) How is the way straitened ? Did God make it so ? The 
Bible recording that the one way is narrow and the other broad 
does not make them so, any more than a medical book recording 
smallpox makes smallpox to exist. The fact is, God has done 
His best to reverse these terrible facts. God has striven to make 
the way to the good broad, and the way to the evil narrow. 

^ " When I was a young man," says Dr. Albert Goodrich, " I 
taught in the ragged schools of London. On one Sunday I had 
this passage for my lesson. ' I say, teacher,' merrily sang one of 
those sharp, ragged boys, ' it says, don't it, the way to the good 
is narrow and the way to the bad wide?' 'Yes, it does,' I 
replied. 'I know that's true,' he said, with a knowing wink; 
' but,' he added, dropping his voice, ' is it fair ? Oughtn't God 
have made them both the same width ? He'd have given us, 
then, a fair chance.' " 

(2) Who or what, then, makes the two ways so different ? 
It is not the will of God ; it is the sin of man. Man's injustices 
to man, man's inhumanity to man, narrows the way. By hard- 
ness, by provoking one another, by tempting one another, we 
make the way narrow. Employers make it narrow to their 
employees; employees make it narrow to their employers. 
Children make it narrow to their parents; parents make it 
narrow to their children. What need there is to consider one 
another, lest we make the way to life even more narrow than 
it is. 

^ What is it, Augustine asks, which makes this gate so strait 
to us, and this way so narrow ? It is not so much " strait " in 

' Buskin, Fors Glavigera, Letter 69 ( Works, xxviii. 441). 

ST. MATTHEW vii. 13, 14 203 

itself, as that we make it strait for ourselves, by the swellings of 
our pride ; — and then, vexed that we cannot enter, chafing and 
impatient at the hindrances we meet with, we become more and 
more unable to pass through. But where is the remedy ? how shall 
these swollen places of our souls be brought down ? By accept- 
ing and drinking of the cup, wholesome though it may be distaste- 
ful, of humility : by listening to and learning of Him who, having 
said, " Enter ye in at the strait gate," does to them who inquire, 
"How shall we enter in?" reply, "By Me;" "I am the Way;" 
" I am the Door." 1 

3. Tht narrow way leads to life. — Life! The mind alive in 
truth, the heart alive with full affection, the conscience alive in 
the vision of duty, and the enjoyment of peace, the soul alive in 
joyous communion with God. Life! The activity of our finer 
faculties, the consciousness of their expansion, the enjoyment of 
achievement, of progress, of laying up imperishable treasure, the 
sense of wealth and power in truth and in God, the enjoyment of 
service with God for the coming of the Kingdom, the hope of the 
crown of life, of life regal, imperial, in and with God for ever. 
That is worth an effort to attain. That is worth the striving 
needful to walk the narrow way. 

^ Jesus here quotes an idea whereof the ancient moralists had 
made great use and which had passed into a commonplace, almost 
a proverb. It is as ancient as the poet Hesiod ; and it appears 
in Kebes' quaint allegory The Tablet, a sort of Greek Pilgrim's 
Progress, purporting to be an account of a pictorial tablet which 
hung in the temple of Kronos and emblematically depicted the 
course of human life. Kebes saw it and had it explained to him 
by an old man who kept the temple. 

" What is the way that leads to the true Instruction ? " said I. 
"You see above," said he, "yonder place where no one dwells, 
but it seems to be desert ? " "I do." " And a little door, and a 
way before the door, which is not much thronged, but very few go 
there ; so impassable does the way seem, so rough and rocky ? " 
" Yes, indeed," said I. "And there seems to be a lofty mound 
and a very steep ascent with deep precipices on this side and on 
that ? " "I see it." " This, then, is the way," said he, " that leads 
to the true Instruction." 

The allegory of the Two Ways had passed into a sort of pro- 
verb, and Jesus here applies it to the great business of salvation, 

' E. C. Trench. 


throwing His hearers back on the broad principles of life. It was 
recognized that, if a man would attain to Virtue or Wisdom, he 
must face a steep and toilsome way, and climb it with resolute 
heart, " All noble things," said the proverb, " are difficult " ; and 
salvation, being the noblest of all, is the most difficult. It can be 
attained only by resolute endeavour, and every man must face the 
ordeal for himself. It is folly to stand gazing at the height and 
wondering whether few or many will win it. "There is the 
narrow gate ! " cries Jesus ; " yonder is the rugged path ! Enter 
and climb." ^ 

^ While the writers of the New Testament vary in their mode 
of presenting the ultimate goal of man, they are at one in regard- 
ing it as an exalted form of life. What they all seek to commend 
is a condition of being involving a gradual assimilation to, and 
communion with, God. The distinctive gift of the gospel is the 
gift of life. " I am the life," says Christ. And the Apostle's 
confession is in harmony with his Master's claim — "For me to 
live is Christ." Salvation is nothing else than the restoration, pre- 
servation, and exaltation of life. ... I am come that they might 
have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. " More 
life and fuller " is the passion of every soul that has caught the 
vision and heard the call of Jesus. The supreme good consists 
not in suppressed vitality, but in power and freedom. Life in 
Christ is a full, rich existence. . . . The spiritual man pursues his 
way through conflict and achievement towards a higher and yet a 
higher goal, ever manifesting, yet ever seeking, the infinite that 
dwells in him. All knowledge and quest and endeavour, nay, 
existence itself, would be a mockery if man had no " forever." 
Scripture corroborates the yearnings of the heart and represents 
life as a growing good which is to attain to ever higher reaches 
and fuller realization in the world to come. It is the unex- 
tinguishable faith of man that the future must crown the present. 
No human effort goes to waste, no gift is delusive ; but every gift 
and every effort has its proper place as a stage in the endless 

" There shall never be one lost good ! What was, shall live as 
before." 2 

1 D. Smith, The Days of His Flesh, 302. 

' A. B. D. Alexander, Christianity and Ethics, 128. 

The Leper. 



Burrell (D. J.), Christ and Men, 168. 

Calthrop (G.), The Futv/re Life, 256. 

Davies (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, i. 21. 

Gilbert (M. N.), in Sermons on the Gospels : Advent to Trinity, 119. 

Howatt (J. B.), Jesus the Poet, 57. 

Keble (J.), Sermons for the Christian Year : Christmas and Epiphany, 

Macduff (J. R.), Memories of Oennesaret, 51. 
Mackennal (A), Christ's Healing Touch, 1. 
McNeill (J.), Regent Square Pulpit, iii. 313. 
Magee (W. C), Growth in Grace, 271. 
Matheaon (G.), Thoughts for Life's Journey, 16. 
Parkhurst (C. H.), A Little Lower than the Angels, 39. 
Power (P. B.), The "I Wills " of Christ, 67. 
Eaymond (G. L.), The Spiritual Life, 33. 
Thompson (R. E.), Nature, the Mirror of Grace, 69. 
Trench (R. C.), Westminster and Other Sermons, 15. 
Wilberforce (B.), The Power that Worketh in Us, 54. 
Williams (C. D.), A Valid Christianity fen- To-Day, 20. 
Wilmot-Buxton (H. J.), By Word and Deed, 21. 
Christian World Pulpit, liii. 48 (H. S. Holland) ; Ixxx. 56 (H. E. 

Churchman's Pulpit : Third Sunday after the Epiphany, iv. 52 (E. Palmer). 
Clergyman's Magazine, 3rd Ser., xi. 20 (W. Burrows). 


The Leper. 

And behold, there came to him a leper and worshipped him, saying, 
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he stretched forth his 
hand, and touched him, saying, I will ; be thou made clean. And straight- 
way his leprosy was cleansed. — Matt. viii. 2, 3. 

1. The disease of leprosy is scarcely known, except in a mild 
form, among ourselves ; only those who have seen it in Eastern 
lands can realize its full horror and loathsomeness. And not 
even then unless they place themselves in intelligent sympathy 
with the ancient Hebrew point of view, and understand the 
mysterious dread and utter abhorrence which surrounded the 
person so afflicted. He was an accursed thing, under the ban of 
God, the pariah, the unapproachable. Writhing under the dread 
disease, he was lost to the world. His home was the caves among 
the rocks, his food the scanty pittance which he could gather in 
the fields or by the roadsides. Leprosy was held to be the mark 
of awful sin, the manifestation of God's special displeasure. Even 
if he recovered, he could not be restored without an elaborate 
ritual, which was supposed to cleanse him from the taint of 
disease, and to reconcile him to God. How horrible this all seems 
as we read and think about it. Yet we must realize it if we desire 
to appreciate fully all that the Saviour's touch and healing 

2. To approach the leper, to look upon him, to bend over him, 

to reach out the hand and touch him, required no common courage. 

There was such pollution in the act that the one doing it became 

ritually unclean. For a man to step across the awful chasm 

which yawned between the leper and society, to minister to his 

wants, to show him the way back to health and home, was braver 

than to face death on the battlefield. To the beholder it would 

be an evidence of utter recklessness, an open defiance of all 



tradition and all law. Yet Christ, the Son of Man, did not hesitate 
for a moment. He did not come to set at naught the law, made 
sacred by Moses' decree and by long ages of use. It was not that. 
It was only a declaration, of which His wonderful life was so full, 
of the higher law which was from henceforth to govern the world ; 
that higher law of the sympathy of the great Father with all 
manner of suffering and sorrow, that higher law which was to 
take the place of the narrow rule of Hebrew ritual, of the possi- 
bility of the restoration of every outcast by the acceptance of the 
help of the Saviour. 

^ Christ did not disregard the prohibition to touch the leper 
because He wanted to show His contempt for the statute. For 
Him the Wealth of His own life repealed the statute. He was 
like a vessel riding the deep sea ; all underlaid with rocks the sea 
may be, but for that vessel there are no rocks ; the vastness of the 
deep waters on whose surface its course is swung practically 
obliterates the rocks, and bears the vessel forward in the con- 
fidence of infinite security.^ 

The Cry foe CLEANsraa. 

" Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." 

1. This is a confession of faith rather than a direct prayer. It 
expresses faith in the power of Christ. It is a grand thing when 
a leper can believe in anything besides his own misery. Probably 
this man had heard only at a distance (owing to the disabilities of 
his loathsome disease) of Christ's deeds of power, and had never 
been near enough to Him to hear the tender tones of that voice 
which had melting pity in it, or to trace the lines of gentleness 
and grace in His loving countenance. Besides, men learn sooner 
to trace power than to trace tenderness. The Eed Sea and Sinai 
revealed God's power, but it took a millennium and a half longer 
for Calvary to reveal His love. The plea of the leper therefore is, 
" Lord, if thou wilfc, thou canst." Did he accept the general belief 
that only God could heal the leper ? Then there was the more 
faith in this admission of Christ's power. 

' C. H. Parkhurst, A Little Lovxr than the Angels, 43. 

ST. MATTHEW viii. 2, 3 209 

^ What a consciousness of might there was in Jesus ! Others, 
prophets and apostles, have healed the sick, but their power was 
delegated. It came as in waves of Divine impulse, intermittent 
and temporary. The power that Jesus wielded was inherent and 
absolute, deeps which knew neither cessation nor diminution. 
Christ's will was supreme over all forces. Nature's potencies are 
diffused and isolated, slumbering in herb or metal, flower or leaf, 
in mountain or sea. But all are inert and useless until man 
distils them with his subtle alchemies, and then applies them by 
his slow processes, dissolving the tinctures in the blood, sending 
on its warm currents the healing virtue, if haply it may reach its 
goal and accomplish its mission. But all these potencies lay in 
the hand or in the will of Christ. The forces of life all were 
marshalled under His bidding. He had but to say to one " Go," 
and it went, here or there, or anywhither ; nor does it go for 
nought ; it accomplishes its high behest, the great Master's will.^ 

2. Now the exercise of faith must always precede healing. A 
certain moral temper there must be in the recipient, a certain 
spiritual outlook, a movement of trust, a personal desire of living 
interest that will go out from the soul towards the presence of 
Him who draws it into His mastery. These there must be if any 
virtue is to go out from Him. He moves along in silence, but His 
silence has power in it that can be felt, and it acts as a spiritual 
test of those on whom it falls. If they are in a moral condition to 
be helped, they become aware of the succour that is at hand. 
They feel about for what it means, they detect His personal 
supremacy. They have an impulse that goes out to Him ; they 
put up a cry ; they thrust out a hand to touch, if it may be, the 
hem of His garment. That act of theirs releases His force. 
Instantaneously and inevitably His life has passed into theirs. 
They are invaded by His strength ; they are permeated by His 
vitality ; they are quickened by His energy ; they find themselves, 
by sheer and natural necessity, rising, walking, seeing, hearing. 
They could not do anything else. Surprise vanishes and wonder 
is slain. It is as simple as any other natural effect. They 
perfectly understand Him as He tells them that they had but to 
be in that condition and the thing is bound to happen — " Thy 
faith hath made thee whole." 

Oft had the Master to pass inactive and helpless as poor 
' H. Burton, Th& Gospel of St. luke, 267. 
ST. MATT. — 14 


maimed men sat in moody silence by the roadside, and never 
asked who He was, and never hoped for a hand to save. He saw 
many a leper go by engulfed in his own shame, never lifting his 
eyes to beg of Him a boon. He had to watch the stupid indiffer- 
ence of those whom misery had dulled and hardened into despair, 
and still He might not speak. He might not shake them out of 
their torpor ; His mouth was closed ; His hope must hold itself 
back. Why will not they understand? Why cannot they cry 
out ? Just one whisper, " Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy upon us," 
and in a moment He would be free. He would be there at their 
side ; His hand would have leaped out ; His touch would have been 
upon them. The words would have rushed out willingly from his 
tongue, '' I will ; go in peace, for thy faith hath made thee whole." 

^ Just as the amazing resources of electricity lie all about us, 
quivering and inactive until we call out their capacities, so the 
vast pardon of God waits, and through its obedience to natural 
law must wait until the Master's touch has on it a human pressure. 
The leper must discover it, must draw upon it, must open himself 
to it, and then the power long repressed leaps out in an instant, 
rushes forward in free haste, in liberated gladness. It pours itself 
out upon him, it bathes him round, it seizes upon him, it possesses 
him. Not a moment is lost. Before his own appeal has died off 
his lips, "Lord, if thou wilt," the answer is upon him — it has 
already done its full work — " I will ; be thou clean." ^ 

^ '' Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean " is a prayer 
lovely in the simplicity of its human pleading — an appeal to the 
power which lay in the man to whom he spoke : His power was 
the man's claim ; the relation between them was of the strongest 
— that between plenty and need, between strength and weakness, 
between health and disease — poor bonds comparatively between 
man and man, for man's plenty, strength, and health can only 
supplement, not satisfy, the need; support the weakness, not 
change it into strength ; mitigate the disease of His fellow, not 
slay it with invading life ; but in regard to God, all whose power 
is creative, any necessity of His creatures is a perfect bond between 
them and Him ; His magnificence must flow into the channels of 
the indigence He has created.* 

3. Why does the leper question the Saviour's will ? It does 

not appear as if our Lord had as yet healed any leper ; this man 

' Canon Scott Holland. 

' George SlaoDonald, The Miracles of Ov/r Iiord, 86, 

ST. MATTHEW vm. 2, 3 211 

is at any rate the first leper mentioned as coming to Him for 
healing. Then the poor man no doubt regarded his leprosy as 
a just judgment for the sins of which his conscience was afraid, 
and went about so humbled and ashamed that he hardly dared 
pray for deliverance. Besides, he might think (for so the Jews 
commonly thought) that there was no healing of leprosy except 
by miracle, by the immediate act of God Almighty Himself; 
and this again would make his request seem bolder. And so the 
wonder is, not that he questioned Jesus' will, but that he believed 
in His power. By believing in His power he threw himself upon 
the innermost tenderness of Christ's nature ; and the whole being 
of our Lord answered to the call. There was no question of power 
to be solved or proved ; the method of the appeal left no room for 
argument; the leper's words, as they passed into the depths of 
Christ's loving nature, which alone was invoked, cut a passage for 
themselves, through which the healing waters could flow. The 
response was instant — " if thou wilt " — " I wiU." 

Tf Jesus did not treat slight ailments, only the most profound, 
obstinate, ghastly maladies. He did not concern Himself with 
simple aches and pains, but proved His Divine authority and 
efficacy in distinguishing leprosy, palsy, fever, blindness, and 
terrible psychic derangements. Numbers of reformers are prepared 
to deal with the superficial ailments of humanity — with its tooth- 
aches, sores, and scratches ; but only One dares attack the deep, 
stubborn, chronic diseases of our nature, the fundamental evils of 
the race. He alone is the grand physician of the world-lazaretto, 
the healer of the incurable, despairing of no man. Let me, then, 
seek in Him for the grace that shall root out the most malign 
morbid humours of the soul. The darkest and deadliest elements 
of evil He can rebuke and expel. " Lord, that I might be clean ! " ^ 


The Healing Touch. 

" And he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will ; be 
thou made clean." 

1. " Touch is the sense which love employs." It means the 
annihilation of distance between one whg loves and that which 
' W. L. Watkinson, 


he loves, so that mere nearness is replaced by contact. Our sense 
of the significance of touch finds expression in such phrases as 
"getting into touch," or "living in touch," with people. They 
stand for sympathetic contact, the sympathy which seeks contact, 
and does not keep others " at arm's length." Children learn it in 
their mothers' laps, and are never content to be merely near those 
they love without actually touching them. 

A very little thing was this touch, even as an indication of 
kindly purpose, but it was just the little thing that a sensitive sick 
man needed. It is, after all, little things that indicate either 
sympathy or antipathy. "I will buy with you," says Shylock, 
" sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following ; 
but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you." 
Had Jesus held aloof from the afflicted they never would have 
trusted Him. Nothing so pains a sick person as the sign of 
shrinking from him. Wear your gloves in any room you like, 
but not in the sick-room. Bend your ear to the trembling dying 
lips, and shun not to lay your hands on the diseased, if you are 
to do them any good, either as nurse or as spiritual adviser and 
Christian friend. 

^ We may be allowed to insert here a few words from an 
account sent to us of Dolling's influence with the rough youths of 
Landport by a lady (then Miss Nance, now Mrs. Cator) who 
managed a club for those fellows, under his sanction, when he 
was at S. Agatha's: "Mr. Dolling and S. Agatha's Mission was 
the only kind of religion that ever appealed to them, and I feel 
sure I could never have persuaded them to go and talk about 
their lives to anyone else. They said, ' Oh, he's different ; we don't 
mind him.' I could tell of miracles of healing under Mr. Dolling's 
touch. One young soldier said to me, ' He laid his hand on my 
head, and, I don't know why, I told him all I had ever done.' " ^ 

2. It would have been quite possible for our Lord to heal this 
leper by a word alone. It would be quite possible for God 
Almighty to say to all the moral lepers of the world, " Be thou 
clean!" and the cure would be Divinely perfect. Why, then, 
does He not ? Just because the cure would be Divinely perfect. 
Grod wants it to be humanly perfect, and this can be effected only 
by a touch. Elijah in the desert may be fed by ravens or he may 

' C. E. Osborne, The Life of FatMr Dolling, 269. 

ST. MATTHEW vin. 2, 3 213 

be fed by man's philanthropy. The physical effect will be the 
same, but not the moral effect. Elijah fed by the ravens is not 
a whit nearer to his kind than Elijah faint and hungry; but 
Elijah fed by human hands becomes himself more human. The 
greatest calamity of a leper was not his leprosy ; it was his divorce 
from his fellow-men. It was not his physical disease that divorced 
him ; it was the belief in his moral contagion. His greatest cry 
was for some one to touch him — to bridge the river of separation. 
It was easy to get the touch after he was healed. But the hard 
thing was to get contact before healing — to receive the touch 
before receiving the mandate, " Be thou clean ! " His fellow-men 
would not grant him that boon. Doubtless they prayed for his 
recovery, but they would not touch him un-recovered. God could 
have healed him in answer to their prayers, but He wanted to 
heal him in answer to their contact. 

Tf Social reformers are discovering that they can do little good 
for people of any sort while they hold them at arm's length. " I 
have learned," says a worker in one of the University settlements, 
"that you can get access to the people who need you only by 
living with them. They will not come to you; but Jew and 
Gentile will make you welcome if you come to them. Our 
meetings for their benefit are a failure. Our personal intercourse 
with them, man to man, has been promising great good. It is of 
no use to come once or twice to see them ; you must live with 
them if you are to do anything for them." ^ 

Tl The hand, more than any other limb or organ, differentiates 
man, begotten in the image of his Father, from the whole series 
of animal creations. No other animal has a hand. The corre- 
sponding organ in the anthropoid ape, which is the most like 
a hand, is not really a hand ; it can fashion nothing, it is fit for 
nothing but to cling to a branch or convey food to the mouth. 
Only man has a hand, and as with it he stamps his impress upon 
nature, and founds his sovereignty of civilization, and performs 
his deeds of heroism, so, when he would caress, or soothe, or 
comfort, or encourage, or bless, or stimulate, or welcome his fellow 
human being, in obedience to some secret instinct, he inv^ariably 
automatically lays his hand upon him.^ 

^ Jesus could have cured the leper with a word. There was 
no need He should touch him. No need, did I say ? There was 

' K. E. Thompson, Nalwre, the Mirror of Grace, 81. 
' B. Wilberforce, The Fower that Worketh in Us, 66. 


every need. For no one else would touch him. The healthy 
human hand, always more or less healing, was never laid on him ; 
he was despised and rejected. It was a poor thing for the Lord 
to cure his body ; He must comfort and cure his sore heart. Of 
all men a leper, I say, needed to be touched with the hand of love. 
Spenser says, " Entire affection hateth nicer hands." It was not 
for our master, our brother, our ideal man, to draw around Him 
the skirts of His garments and speak a lofty word of healing, that 
the man might at least be clean before He touched him. The 
man was His brother, and an evil disease cleaved fast unto him. 
Out went the loving hand to the ugly skin, and there was His 
brother as he should be — with the flesh of a child. I thank God 
that the touch went before the word. Nor do I think it was the 
touch of a finger, or of the finger-tips. It was a kindly healing 
touch in its nature as in its power. Oh, blessed leper! thou 
knowest henceforth what kind of a God there is in the earth — 
not the God of the priests, but a God such as Himself only can 
reveal to the hearts of His own.^ 


The Greater Gift. 

The physical cure is the pledge and promise of a still greater 
blessing. For leprosy was singled out by God Himself from the 
vast catalogue of human diseases and sufferings to keep before 
the eyes of His people of old a perpetual memorial of the vileness 
and awfulness of moral evil. The outer body was made by Him 
a mirror of the far deeper and darker taint in the soul. It was 
a silent preacher in the midst of the theocratic nation and to 
the end of time, testifying to the virulence of a more inveterate 
malady — that " from the sole of the foot even unto the head there 
is no soundness in us, but wounds and bruises and putrefying 
sores." Although it by no means invariably followed that the 
lepers of Israel were afflicted with their dire plague in con- 
sequence of personal sin, yet we know that this was the case 
in some instances, such as those of Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah. 
And at all events the disease was regarded by the Jews as a mark 
of the Divine displeasure. They spoke of it as "the finger of 
' 6. MacDonald, The Miracles of Owr Lord, 88. 

ST. MATTHEW vm. 2, 3 215 

God." It was considered an outward and visible sign of inward 
disorganization, guilt, and impurity. 

^ It is clear that the same principle [of the law of Moses] 
which made all having to do with death, as mourning, a corpse, 
the occasions of a ceremonial uncleanness, inasmuch as all these 
were signs and consequences of sin, might consistently with this 
have made every sickness an occasion of uncleanness, each of 
these being also death beginning, partial death — echoes in the 
body of that terrible reality, sin in the soul. But instead of this, 
in a gracious sparing of man, and not pushing the principle to the 
uttermost, God took but one sickness, one of these visible out- 
comings of a tainted nature, in which to testify that evil was not 
from Him, could not dwell with Him. He linked this teaching 
with but one; by His laws concerning it to train men into a 
sense of a clinging impurity, which needed a Pure and a Purifier 
to overcome and expel, and which nothing short of His taking of 
our flesh could drive out. And leprosy, the sickness of sicknesses, 
was throughout these Levitical ordinances selected of God from 
the whole host of maladies and diseases which had broken in 
upon the bodies of men. Bearing His testimony against it. He 
bore His testimony against that out of which every sickness 
grows, against sin ; as not from Him, as grievous in His sight ; 
and against the sickness also itself as grievous, being as it 
was a visible manifestation, a direct consequence of sin, a 
forerunner of that death which by the portal of disobedience 
and revolt had found entrance into natures created by Him for 

1. Salvation provides free access to God. When the Lord said, 
" I will ; be thou made clean," when He had put forth His healing 
hand, from that moment the man had a right of approach to the 
place where God's honour dwelt — he might again tread the courts 
of the Temple ; he might again offer his gifts ; he might once more 
worship with the worshippers. And this is the great fruit of the 
sacrifice of Christ — of the "I will; be thou made clean," pronounced 
concerning each and all of us — that it procures us admission into 
the holiest, into the presence of God, and so brings us under the 
mighty healing influences which are ever going forth from Him, 
that having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, purged 
from dead works, we are able to draw near in faith, and hence- 
forth to serve the living God, 

' B. C. Trench, Notes on the Mvrcbclea of Owr Lord, 226. 


Tl The Son of God, at once above our life and in our life, 
morally Divine and circumstantially human, mediates for us be- 
tween the self so hard to escape, and the Infinite so hopeless to 
reach ; and draws us out of our mournful darkness without losing 
us in excess of light. He opens to us the moral and spiritual 
mysteries of our existence, appealing to a consciousness in us 
that was asleep before. And though. He leaves whole worlds of 
thought approachable only by silent wonder, yet His own walk of 
heavenly communion. His words of grace and works of power, 
His strife of Divine sorrow, His cross of self-sacrifice. His re- 
appearance behind the veil of life eternal, fix on Him such holy 
trust and love, that, where we are denied the assurance of know- 
ledge, we attain the repose of faith.^ 

2. Salvation links men together in a holy fellowship. As the 
Lord sent this suppliant, before an outcast, back to the society of 
his fellows, a cleansed man, no longer obliged to cover his lips in 
shame, no longer with a miserable sense of something that separ- 
ated him from all his race, even so He gives unto His redeemed 
and sanctified a ground of true communion and fellowship one 
with another — He takes away the middle wall of partition that 
was between each man and his brethren, having slain the enmity 
and the selfishness by His cross. 

^ I have endeavoured in my tracts to prove that if Christ be 
really the head of every man, and if He really have taken human 
flesh, there is ground for a imiversal fellowship among men (a 
fellowship that is itself the foundation of those particular fellow- 
ships of the nation and the^family, which I also consider sacred). 
I have maintained that it is the business of a Church to assert 
this ground of universal fellowship ; that it ought to make men 
understand and feel how possible it is for men as men to fraternize 
in Christ ; how impossible it is to fraternize, except in Him.* 

3. It will be said that in any case the days of isolation are 
gone, and gone for ever. Nation can no longer hold itself aloof 
from nation, and people from people, as if they did not share 
a common humanity, hardly as if they lived in the same world. 
We are daily being forced into closer contacts, welded into closer 
unities. Well, what is to be the consequence of all this ? With- 
out the touch, the healing, cleansing, life-giving touch of Christ 

^ Life and Letters of James Martineau, i. 286. 
" The lAfe of Frederick Denison Mwu/nee, i. 258. 

ST. MATTHEW vni. 2, 3 217 

and His gospel, without the higher life of a genuinely Christian 
civilization, it may mean a disaster fearful to contemplate, whose 
proportions we can scarcely imagine. On the one side it can 
mean only destruction to the races of heathendom. It is a well- 
known law of ethnology that, unless there be some assimilating, 
unifying power such as the gospel alone can furnish, the weaker 
always perishes rapidly before the stronger. The contacts of 
trade, commercialism, and militarism bring invariably in their 
train contagion and infection. The heathen are apt pupils of evil. 
With a fatal facility they learn the new vices of the soldiers, 
sailors, and traders of so-called civilized and Christian peoples, 
and add them to their own native vices and diseases. And the 
combination means nothing less than destruction. 

There are consequences that run in the other direction also. 
With these ever closer relations of commerce and conquest which 
are fast knitting all the world into one come new and fearful 
dangers to ourselves. Up from the uncleansed life of heathendom 
shall sweep mighty plagues, both physical and moral. That life 
has diseases to give us whose horror we never dreamed of. It 
has sins to teach us which even in the depths of our depravity 
we have not imagined. And soldiers and sailors, traders and 
merchants, wanderers in far lands, away from the restraints of 
home, acquaintance, and familiar associations, are apt pupils in 
such things. That is what contact without Christ is bound to 
mean. If, through that inevitable touch of people upon people, 
virtue does not go out from us to them, then contagion and in- 
fection are sure to pass from them to us and us to them. If we 
will not share with them our highest life, our nobler ambitions, 
our blessings, above all, our gospel, then they will share with us 
their plagues of soul and body. Therefore alongside the ware- 
house, the barracks, and the saloon, which always mark the first 
wave of an advancing Western civilization, must be built the 
Christian school, the hospital, and the church. 

^ During Sunday afternoons in June 1888, Professor Drum- 
mond delivered a series of religious addresses at Grosvenor 
House, London. After distinguishing between religion and 
theology, he said that the truth of Christianity is mani- 
fest in the fact that there is no real civilization without it, 
and that the purer the form of Christianity the greater the 
development of civilization. " Show me," he said, with Matthew 


Arnold, " ten square miles outside of Christianity where the life 
of man or the virtue of woman is safe, and I'll throw over Chris- 
tianity at once." ^ 

^ Chalmers' address at the Exeter Hall meeting of the London 
Missionary Society in 1886 was the climax of his public work 
during this visit home. Exeter Hall was crowded, and the main 
interest of the meeting centred in Tamate's unpolished but thrill- 
ing eloquence. To recall a few of the most striking passages : " I 
have had twenty-one years' experience amongst natives. I have 
seen the semi-civilized and the uncivilized ; I have lived with the 
Christian native, and I have lived, dined, and slept with the 
cannibal. I have visited the islands of the New Hebrides; I 
have visited the Loyalty Group, I have seen the work of missions 
in the Samoan Group, I know all the islands of the Society Group, 
I have lived for ten years in the Hervey Group, I know a few of 
the groups close on the line, and for at least nine years of my life 
I have lived with the savages of New Guinea ; but I have never 
yet met with a single man or woman, or a single people, that 
your civilization without Christianity has civilized. For God's 
sake let it be done at once ! Gospel and commerce, but re- 
member this, it must be the Gospel first. Wherever there has 
been the slightest spark of civilization in the Southern Seas it has 
been because the Gospel has been preached there, and wherever 
you find in the Island of New Guinea a friendly people or a 
people that will welcome you, there the missionaries of the Cross 
have been preaching Christ. Civilization! The Eampart can 
only be stormed by those who carry the Cross." ^ 

^ G. A. Smith, Th^ Life of Henry Drummond, 279i 
^ £. Lovett, Ja/mti Chahners, 278. 

The Physician. 



Black (J.), The Pilgrim Ship, 199. 

Bruce (A. B.), The Galilean Gospel, 73. 

Campbell (W. M.), Foot-Prints of Christ, 92. 

Cox (S.), A Day mth Christ, 91. 

Griffith-Jones (E.), Faith and Verification, 134. 

Hall (R.), TVorhs, iv. 421. 

Kingsley (C), The Water of Life, 213. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew ix.-xvii., 18. 

Ross (J. M. E.), The Self -Portraiture of Jesus, 1. 

Sjjurgeon (0. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xi. (lS65), No. 618. 

Zahn (T.), Bread and Salt from the Word of God, 227. 

Christian World Pulpit, xxv. 385 (F. W. Farrar). 

Church of England Magazine, lii. 112 (C. Clayton). 

The Physician. 

They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick, 
— Matt. ix. 12. 

1. One of the best known scenes in the gospel story is here 
placed before our eyes, and the same picture, in all essentials, 
meets us more than once in the Gospels. On the one side stands 
Jesus, who sat at meat with publicans and sinners as their friend ; 
and on the other side the Pharisees, who murmured and found 
fault with our Lord for so doing. On another day Jesus replied 
to the murmuring of the Pharisees by the three parables of the 
Lost Piece of Silver, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son. The same 
opposition was manifested when He sat at meat as the guest of 
Simon the Pharisee, and, to the astonishment of those who were 
eating with Him, allowed a woman that was a sinner to wash 
His feet with her tears, and to wipe them with her hair. To all 
sorts of people Jesus cried, " Follow Me." There were the honest 
fishermen by the Lake of Gennesaret ; there was the faithful son 
who wanted first to go and bury his father ; and to-day it is a 
publican who is sitting at the receipt of custom at Capernaum. 
He is named Matthew, and he is the Apostle whose name stands 
at the head of the Gospel from which the text is taken. The 
publican must not be missing from the inner circle of Jesus' 
disciples, from those whom He invited to give up their former 
calling and become His fellow-workers. He was not only tolerated 
but even drawn by Jesus to Himself, and brought forward by 
Him that all might know why Jesus came into the world. 

If we ask in amazement how it was that a publican could 
immediately respond to such a call, and give up the whole course 
of his life, a satisfactory answer will occur to each of us. The 
publican Matthew, like many more of his order, must have heard 
Jesus preaching more than once, and possibly he may even have 
listened secretly to the preaching of John the Baptist. This 


powerful preaching had opened a new world to him, the very 
opposite of the world in which he had hitherto lived ; a world of 
righteousness, of grace, and of peace. Hence sprang his implicit 
trust in the Man who offered Himself to him as a guide to a new 
life and a new life-work. He celebrated with a feast the hour in 
which Jesus made him a sharer in His own work. On the same 
day he invited many of his own class to a meal in his house. 
And as they felt drawn to Jesus, so Jesus also seems to have felt 
at ease in their company. But what a company that was ! Even 
those who know but little of the conditions of the Holy Land at 
that time, of the fearful pressure of taxation under which the 
Jewish people had long groaned, of the habitual embezzlements 
and extortions of those who farmed out the taxes and of the 
officials under them, can understand that publicans and sinners 
were almost interchangeable words. Jesus Himself did not speak 
of them in any other way. The publicans were branded as 
sinners ; for they were solemnly excommunicated from the syna- 
gogue as traitors and renegades, and most of them were, according 
to Jewish law, beaten with forty stripes save one, before they 
were cast out, by order of the rulers of the synagogue. Thus 
branded as traitors and sinners, they were shut out from all 
decent society, and were compelled to herd together, corrupt and 
corrupting. Despised, they became despicable, extortionate, base. 
We cannot wonder that the Pharisees sneered and shook their 
heads when they asked the disciples of Jesus, " Why eateth your 
Master with publicans and sinners ? " 

^ There was nothing in Eoman tax-gathering which made 
vice in that calling a necessary thing. In point of fact, the vice 
came from the outside. The masfer-publicans were men of rank 
and credit ; but they put their work into the hands of subordinates 
who were often taken from the slums. The vices these exhibited 
in their profession were brought with them into their profes- 
sion ; they came from the previous corruptions of human nature, 
and no trade is chargeable with them. We cannot morally label 
Matthew by calling him " Matthew the Publican." The truth is, 
the obloquy with which Matthew was regarded by his country- 
men did not proceed from the fear that he was a bad man, but 
from the certainty that he was a bad Jew. The most galling fact 
to the Israel of later days was the fact that she paid tribute to 
another land. Ideally she claimed to be the mistress of the world 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 223 

— the nation into whose treasury all tribute should flow. That 
such a nation should pay taxes to a foreign people, a Gentile 
people, was an awful thought. It was a pain worse than lacera- 
tion, more cruel than a blow. But there was the possibility of a 
pain more poignant still. It was bad enough that the tribute of 
homage from Israel should be collected by a Boman. But what 
if the man who gathered it should be a son of Israel herself ! 
What if the man who taunted her with her misfortunes should be 
one born within her pale, bred within her precincts, sheltered 
within her privileges — one from whom was due the veneration for 
her sanctuary and the reverence for her God ! Now, this often 
happened ; and it happened in the case of Matthew. Here was 
a Jew who had lost the last shred of patriotism. He had for- 
gotten the traditions of his ancestors ! He had not only accepted 
without a blush the domination by the stranger ; he had taken 
part with the stranger in his domination ! He had attached him- 
self to the enemies of his country — had become a collector of their 
tribute from his own conquered land ! The man who acted thus 
was bound to be execrated by his race. He was execrated on that 
ground alone. No amount of personal vices would in the eyes of 
his countrymen have added to the enormity of his sin, and no 
amount of personal virtues would in the slightest degree have 
minimized that sin. His deed was itself to them the acme of all 
iniquity, from which nothing could detract and which nothing 
could intensify. The blackness of Matthew's character in the 
eyes of the Jew was the fact of his apostasy.^ 

2. It seems as though the disciples of those times were em- 
barrassed by the question. Jesus Himself was obliged to give the 
answer in their stead. He replied with the proverb : " They that 
are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick." 
He sheltered His work as a healer of men's souls behind the 
example of those who healed men's bodies. " Physicians go where 
they are needed " (so ran His argument). " They do not haunt 
the houses of the healthy. They go where the disease is, and you 
honour them for their devotion to duty. Even so I also go where 
I am needed. And if there be any cases specially serious, 
specially hopeless, specially friendless, there, above all, must I go. 
There My work calls Me, and there My heart leads Me." It was 
a great argument, simple as the common speech of men, yet deep 
as the Everlasting Love. 

> G. Matheson, The Representative Men of tin New Testament, 188. 


Tl In 1842, when Dr. Hutchison Stirling was a young man and 
uncertain whether to follow medicine or literature as a profession, 
he wrote to Carlyle, who, in course of his reply, said : " Practi- 
cally, my advice were very decidedly that you kept by medicine ; 
that you resolved faithfully to learn it, on all sides of it, and make 
yourself in actual fact an 'larpig, a man that could heal disease. I 
am very serious in this. A steady course of professional industry 
has ever been held the usefullest support for mind as well as body : 
I heartily agree with that. And often I have said. What pro- 
fession is there equal in true nobleness to medicine? He that 
can abolish pain, relieve his fellow-mortal from sickness, he is the 
indisputably usefullest of all men. Him savage and civilized will 
honour. He is in the right, be in the wrong who may. As a 
Lord Chancellor, under one's horse-hair wig, there might be mis- 
givings ; still more perhaps as a Lord Primate, under one's cauli- 
flower ; but if I could heal disease, I should say to all men and 
angels without fear, ' En ecce ! ' " ^ 

3. The proverb Christ employed was in common use both by 
the Hebrew Eabbis and by the heathen historians and poets. We 
find it in the Talmud, and in Greek and Eoman authors. It was 
one of that kind of sayings — the gnomic — which the Eabbis spent 
their lives in making, learning, repeating. And on our Lord's 
lips, as they would instantly feel, it took a tone of rebuke. 
They professed to be healers in Israel. They professed to have a 
vast store of medicinal words with which they could minister to 
the mind diseased, and give saving health to the distempered 
soul. But what kind of healers were those who administered 
their remedies only to the hale and robust, who shrank from the 
sick lest they should expose themselves to infection ? Yet this 
was precisely what these professed " healers " were doing. They 
had wisdom for the wise, but none for the foolish. They would 
explain the secrets of righteousness to the devout, but not to the 
sinful. They taught the spiritually healthy how health might be 
preserved, but left the sick multitude, the people altogether bom 
in sin, to languish and perish in their iniquities. 

That was not Christ's conception of the Healer's art and duty. 

The true Healer was he who dreaded no infection, who went 

fearlessly among the diseased, and sought to make them whole ; 

who gave eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, 

' James Sutchiaon Stirling : His Life and Work, 57. 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 225 

vigour to the decrepit, life to the dying. The Healer's duty lay, 
not with the few strong and hale, but with the great multitude 
lying sick unto death, no man caring for their souls. 

In this proverb, therefore, Jesus virtually announced Himself 
as the true Healer, the Good Physician, as caring for the weak 
more than for the strong, for the. sick more than for the whole. 
And, if in that announcement there was rebuke for the Eabbis and 
doctors of the law as untrue to their vocation, unfaithful to their 
professed art of healing, there was plainly comfort and hope for 
the weak and sick who reclined at Matthew's table. 

Tf Natural Eeligion is based upon the sense of sin ; it recog- 
nizes the disease, but it cannot find, it does not look out for 
the remedy. That remedy, both for guilt and for moral impo- 
tence, is found in the central doctrine of Eevelation, the Mediation 
of Christ. Thus it is that Christianity has been able from the 
first to occupy the world and gain a hold on every class of human 
society to which its preachers reached ; this is why the Eoman 
power and the multitude of religions which it embraced could 
not stand against it; this is the secret of its sustained energy, 
and its never-flagging martyrdoms ; this is how at present it is 
so mysteriously potent, in spite of the new and fearful adversaries 
which beset its path. It has with it that gift of staunching and 
healing the one deep wound of human nature, which avails more 
for its success than a full encyclopedia of scientific knowledge 
and a whole library of controversy, and therefore it must last 
while human nature lasts.^ 

Christ the Healbe of the Body. 

"They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they 
that are sick." This saying serves two purposes — an immediate 
apologetic purpose, and a permanent didactic one. Viewing it 
first in the former aspect, we remark that the point of the saying 
lies not in what is stated, but in what is implied — in the sugges- 
tion that Christ was a Physician. That understood, all becomes 
plain. For no one is surprised that a physician visits the sick 
rather than the healthy, and visits most frequently those that are 
most grievously afflicted with disease. Nor does any one dream 
' J. H. Newman, The Orammwr of Assent, 480. 
ST. MATT. — 15 


of making it an occasion of reproach to a physician that he 
shrinks not from visiting those whose maladies are of a loathsome 
or dangerous nature, offensive to his senses, involving peril to his 
life. That he so acts is regarded simply as the display of a praise- 
worthy enthusiasm in his profession, the want of which would 
be reckoned a true ground of reproach. Eegard Christ as a 
physician, and He at once gets the benefit of these universally 
prevalent sentiments as to what is becoming in one who practises 
the healing art. 

1. Jesus Christ is the Good Physician as well as the Good 
Shepherd. His public ministry proves that He recognized two 
deadly enemies of mankind. The arch-enemy is sin — the dread 
evil that afflicts man's soul, against which He directed the whole 
forces of the spiritual world. But there was another enemy 
against whom also He waged a hearty and persistent warfare — 
disease, which afflicts man's body. He thus proved His love for 
man's nature as a whole, and laid down the redemption of the 
race on that double basis, without recognizing which the world 
can never be fully saved. For man's life is a unity with two 
essential sides ; he is a compound of matter and spirit, clay and 
divinity, perishable body and immortal soul. Salvation means 
restored health ; and the old proverb, Mens sana in corpore sano, is 
thus the condition of that perfect well-being which it is the will 
of God that we should all normally enjoy. In our actual experi- 
ence we seldom attain to this happy condition ; but that we were 
meant for it, and that we should strive hard for it, is shown 
beautifully and convincingly in the attitude which Jesus took 
towards sin and disease throughout His public ministry. He 
treated them as enemies, and He recognized their close connexion ; 
He did what He could in forgiving men's sins to heal their sick- 
nesses ; and in healing their sicknesses He never failed to emphasize 
the darker evil of which disease is fundamentally one of the most 
persistent symbols. " But that ye may know that the Son of man 
hath power to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), 
Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." 

^ Memory and imagination linger lovingly over the external 
ministry of healing which filled the land with the name of Jesus. 
He was not the only healer : in these words there is an evident 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 227 

reference to physicians in general, men who embodied such skill 
and knowledge as were then possible. Luke is called " the be- 
loved physician," and no doubt there were many beloved for their 
own sakes and honoured for their work's sake. But of exact 
science there was, of course, little or none, and every chance for 
quackery, for empiricism, for superstition. That is a terribly 
suggestive phrase in the story of the woman who touched the hem 
of Christ's garment: she "had suffered many things of many 
physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing 
bettered, but rather grew worse." So is the proverb quoted by 
our Lord : " Physician, heal thyself." So also is another ancient 
Jewish proverb : " Even the best of doctors deserves Gehenna." 
And all who have seen anything of native medicine among 
primitive tribes know how often the cure is truly worse than the 
disease. It was into all that chaos and crudity that the Son of 
Man came with Divine power flowing from Him. Surely there 
never was a more beautiful story more exquisitely told! The 
main incidents are written on all our hearts. Yet perhaps we do 
not estimate largely enough the amount of His work in this 
direction, nor the physical and nervous strain it caused Himself 
as virtue went forth from Him in His manifold acts of healing. 
" Whithersoever he entered, into villages, or city, or country, they 
laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might 
touch if it were but the border of his garment : and as many as 
touched him were made whole." "■ 

TI Christ's healing of the sick can in no way be termed against 
nature, seeing that the sickness which was healed was against the 
nature of man, that it is sickness which is abnormal, and not 
health. The healing is the restoration of the primitive order. 
We should see in the miracle not the infraction of a law, but the 
neutralizing of a lower law, the suspension of it for a time by a 
higher. Of this abundant analogous examples are evermore going 
forward before our eyes. Continually we behold in the world 
around us lower laws held in restraint by higher, mechanic by 
dynamic, chemical by vital, physical by moral ; yet we do not say, 
when the lower thus gives place in favour of the higher, that there 
was any violation of law, or that anything contrary to nature 
came to pass ; rather we acknowledge the law of a greater free- 
dom swallowing up the law of a lesser.* 

2. Now, this ministry of physical healing was in itself a 

revelation. De Quincey says that Jesus adopted this line of 

' J. M. E. Boss, TM Self-Portraitwe of Jesus, 3. 
' Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles, 16. 


action " chiefly as the best means of advertising His approach far 
and wide, and thus convoking the people to His instructions." 
But there was more in it than that, a whole world more, then and 
now ! It is the Divine justification of all attempts to alleviate 
the external and physical conditions of human life. It is the 
Divine justification of medical missions, which have the unique 
glory of being not only Christ's own work, but His own work done 
in His own way. It is a rebuke to the unreal and affected way 
in which we sometimes speak of physical pain as though it were 
nothing at all. Had pain and sickness not been great realities, 
Christ would not have spent so much time and strength in fight- 
ing against them. He stands for ever now in the sight of men as 
the goal towards which humanity is travelling. And His ministry 
of physical healing is a proof that pain and sickness are temporary 
and abnormal things : in God's good time there shall be no more 
pain because " the former things are passed away." 

^ Within the lifetime of some of us a strange and wonderful 
thing happened on the earth — something of which no prophet 
foretold, of which no seer dreamt, nor is it among the beatitudes 
of Christ Himself ; only St. John seems to have had an inkling 
of it in that splendid chapter in which he describes the new 
heaven and the new earth, when the former things should pass 
away, when all tears should be wiped away, and there should be 
no more crying nor sorrow. On October 16, 1846, in the amphi- 
theatre of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, a new 
Prometheus gave a gift [sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic] as rich as 
that of fire, the greatest single gift ever made to suffering humanity. 
The prophecy was fulfilled — neither shall there ie any more pain ; 
a mystery of the ages had been solved by a daring experiment by 
man on man in the introduction of anaesthesia. As Weir Mitchell 
sings in his poem. The Death of Pain — 

Whatever triumphs still shall hold the mind, 
Whatever gifts shall yet enrich mankind. 
Ah! here, no hour shall strike through all the years, 
No hour so sweet as when hope, doubt and fears, 
'Mid deepening silence watched one eager brain 
With Godlike will decree the Death of Pain. 

At a stroke the curse of Eve was removed, that multiplied sorrow 
of sorrows, representing in all ages the very apotheosis of pain. 
The knife has been robbed of its terrors, and the hospitals are 
no longer the scenes of those appalling tragedies that made the 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 229 

stoutest quail. To-day we take for granted the silence of the 
operating-room, but to reach this Elysiuid we had to travel the 
slow road of laborious research, which gave us first the chemical 
agents, and then brave hearts had to risk reputation, and even 
life itself, in experiments, the issue of which was for long doubtful. 
More widespread in its benediction, as embracing all races and 
all classes of society, is the relief of suffering, and the prevention 
of disease through the growth of modem sanitary science in which 
has been fought out the greatest victory in history. ... It is not 
simply that the prospect of recovery is enormously enhanced, but 
Listerian surgery has diminished suffering to an extraordinary 
degree. . . . Man's redemption of man is nowhere so well known 
as in the abolition and prevention of the group of diseases which 
we speak of as the fevers, or the acute infections. This is the 
glory of the science of medicine, and nowhere in the world have 
its lessons been so thoroughly carried out as in this country. . . . 
If, in the memorable phrase of the Greek philosopher Prodicus, 
" That which benefits human life is God," we may see in this new 
gospel a link betwixt us and the crowning race of those who eye 
to eye shall look on knowledge, and in whose hand nature shall 
be an open book.^ 


Christ the Healer of the Soul. 

But, after all, our Lord's supreme purpose was to be a healer 
of souls. Had the critics of Jesus but accredited Him with the 
character of a Healer of spiritual maladies, they would not have 
been scandalized by His habit of associating with the morally and 
socially degraded. But that Jesus was a physician was just the 
thing that never occurred to their minds. And why ? Because 
their own thoughts and ways went in a wholly different direction, 
and they judged Him by themselves. The Kabbis and their 
disciples were students of the law, and their feeling towards such 
as knew not the law was one of simple aversion and contempt. 
They expected Jesus to share this feeling. Men are ever apt 
to make themselves the standard of moral judgment. The Eabbi 
expects all who assume the function of a teacher to share his 
contempt for the multitude ignorant of legal technicalities and 
niceties ; the " philosophe," confining his sympathies to the culti- 
' Sir W. Osier, MwiCt Sedenyition o/Man, 81. 


vated few, regards with mild disdain the interest taken by philan- 
thropists in popular movements ; the " mystagogue " who invites 
select persons to initiation into religious mysteries adopts for 
himself, and expects all others belonging to the spiritual aristo- 
cracy of mankind to adopt along with him, the sentiment of the 
Eoman poet : " I hate and abhor the profane rabble." The mass 
of mankind have eternal reason for thankfulness that Jesus Christ 
came not as a Eabbi, or as a " philosophe," or as a " hierophant," 
with the proud, narrow contempt characteristic of men bearing 
these titles, but as a healer of souls, with the broad, warm 
sympathies and the enthusiasm of humanity congenial to such 
a vocation. The fact exposed Him to the censure of contempor- 
aries, but by way of compensation it has earned for Him the 
gratitude of all after ages. 

^ Thou speakest of thy sin and miseries, which do indeed 
make a barrier between God and us : but, if I know Jesus ever 
so little, I think, when I read or hear such complaints, of practised 
physicians, when they are confronted with a common disease: 
they are not unprovided, they have medicines for it that never fail. 
So say I now: Jesus knows plenty of means of healing, show 
Him all thy wounds with a weeping heart, ask in humility and 
confidence for His mighty healing, and that He may heal thee 
thoroughly; but this may not happen unless He, for a while, 
increases thy wounds by a deep sense of thy sin, misery, and 
darkness, which indeed is means in love that thou hereafter, yea, 
for ever, mayest feel no further need.^ 

1. That Christ came into the world as a healer of souls is a 
fact full of didactic meaning. It means, first, that Christianity is 
before all things a religion of redemption. Its proper vocation is 
to find the lost, to lift the low, to teach the ignorant, to set free 
those in bonds, to wash the unclean, to heal the sick ; and it must 
go where it can discover the proper subjects of its art, remembering 
that the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 

(1) There is in the natural heart of man an indifferent selfish- 
ness and a careless cruelty which make men always let the weak 
go to the wall, and very often trample savagely on the fallen. 
They are akin in this to the creatures of the field ; to the hounds 
that bite their wounded brother in the kennel ; to the sea-gulls 
' Gerhardt Tersteegen, 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 231 

that swoop down on the wounded bird as the wave is already 
beginning to be crimsoned with its blood. Among savage tribes 
the sick and the injured were killed or left to die. In polished 
Greece and Imperial Eome children were exposed and slaves 
were mercilessly tortured. Christ taught the world that this 
apathy of heart is earthly, sensual, devilish. He taught us once 
and for ever the sacredness, not of fine gifts and fair and brilliant 
intellects, but of man as man. It was not for the sake of the 
rich, the strong, the mighty, the noble, that He took our nature 
upon Him, but for poor men, for slaves, for carpenters, for tax- 
gatherers, for fishermen, for daily labourers, for peasant women, 
nay, even more, for the sake of the sinful, the outcast, the fallen, 
for all at whom men, who are in most respects the causes of their 
ruin, point the finger of cruel scorn. He saw the soul of beauty 
in things ugly, and the potentiality of goodness in things evil. 

^ There is an Eastern legend about Christ so profound of 
meaning, so full of instruction, that we are half tempted to think 
that it must be true in fact as it is in feeling. On the high road, 
under the blistering sunlight, lay a poor, miserable dog that had 
died of starvation. Clouds of flies had begun to settle on the 
carcase, and the lazy, aimless wayfarers gathered round to look at 
it, scaring away for a moment the obscene vultures that hovered 
near; and all of them, one after another, expressed their idle 
disgust and their pitiless loathing of it. But at last they fell 
silent, for the Master approached, and for a moment He stood and 
cast His eye on that horrible object, on that dead creature which 
God had made, and there was silence, and at last He said, " Its 
teeth are as white as pearls," and so He passed on. He who cared 
for the lilies and for the lions cared also for the little sparrows, 
and had His word of pity even for that dead dog. I think that 
he who could have invented such a legend must have seen very 
deeply into the heart of Christ.^ 

^ The late General Gordon, in one of his published letters, 
describes the remorse he long felt for a trivial act of cruelty into 
which he inadvertently fell, A lizard was climbing up the side 
of his house in the sunshine and he thoughtlessly flicked it with 
his cane and so cut short its life. He had often shed blood upon 
the battlefield without the slightest hesitation, and felt never a 
qualm of conscience afterwards. But this act troubled him more 
than the carnage in which he had taken his part as a soldier. 

^ Dean Farrar. 


He was haunted by the feeling that he had destroyed a life that 
was more meagre in capacity than his own, and much shorter in 
its span. In the regret to which he confessed there was a genuine 
ethical discernment, for every virtuous nature feels itself under 
special obligation to the weak. God thinks mercifully of us 
because, in comparison with His own rich, manifold, exhaustless 
and immortal blessedness, our lives are chequered, circumscribed, 
crippled, and poverty-stricken. We are mortal, blooms trembling 
to their fall, fading dreams, fabrics of exposed nerve, phantasms 
of alternating smiles and tears. We do not expiate our sins by 
that which we suffer, and God has no indulgent laxity for wilful, 
unwept, reiterated transgression ; but our frailties woo the 
marvellous compassions of His Fatherhood. Perhaps if He had 
not made us out of the dust we could not have stood so near the 
sacred centre of His pitying love.^ 

(2) The whole need not a physician. Are there any men, 
then, who are whole ? Jesus did not directly deny it. The 
publicans and sinners were sick people — sick in soul, sick in honour, 
sick in conscience. The Pharisees were whole in comparison with 
them. They had remained true to their nationality, they lived 
correctly according to the law of their fathers, they were held in 
honour by their nation as the guardians and teachers of the law. 
If they were of different minds amongst themselves on religious and 
moral questions, still they had and knew the law, and were well 
versed in expounding it. They had had great teachers, whose 
decisions were accounted by them as a gospel. They would also 
gladly have recognized a new Master, who in their own way, 
only more clearly and more intelligently than their former 
masters, would comment on the Word of God and teach the true 
wisdom of life. But they had no need of a Teacher who said, " I 
am a Physician," because they did not feel ill. 

^ In the great company of those who have been baptized in 
the name of Christ, we find many people like the Pharisees, who 
are unable to accept Jesus and to desire a closer relationship to 
Him, just because Jesus is a Physician and they feel well. The 
Gospel is a medicine : to one it tastes bitter, to another nause- 
ously sweet. Who cares to take medicine when he feels perfectly 
well ? A draught of fresh water from a natural or an artificial 
well, or a glass of wine at a joyful feast, tastes better and does 
more good to a man who is whole. 

' T. G. Selby, The God of the Frail, 6. 

ST. MATTHEW ix. 12 233 

How are we to reply to this? Are we to prove to such 
people that they are sick, and that our whole nation is sick, from 
the crown of the head to the sole of the foot ? Are we to force 
ourselves upon them, and show that their imaginary health does 
not exist, and that they are sadly in need of the Physician? 
That would not be like unto the Master. Jesus did not say to 
the Pharisees, "Come unto Me," He said, "Go your way." 
Neither did He say, " Come and learn to know Me better," but, 
" Go and learn what is written in your Bible : ' I will have mercy 
and not sacrifice.' " If ye were compassionate, ye would not look 
down so contemptuously on degraded and inferior people, and so 
askance at those who take an interest in them ; ye would not find 
the distance so great between them and yourselves, but would 
acknowledge them as your equals in all the essentials which make 
up the misery and the dignity of man. Go and learn better what 
ye yourselves acknowledge as the chief command of your God, the 
law of love. Then prove yourselves, and thus learn to know your- 
selves. Perhaps the day will come when ye will find yourselves 
destitute of love, and therefore destitute of all true life, when ye 
will feel sick in the innermost centre of your being. Eemember 
then that there is a Physician who heals all diseases. Jesus still 
speaks thus to those who are whole, and who turn their backs 
upon Him; and He can scarcely speak in any other way to 
many of those who confess Him.^ 

^ A minister, when he had done preaching in a country 
village, said to a farm-labourer who had been listening to him, 
" Do you think Jesus Christ died to save good people, or lad 
people ? " " Well, sir," said the man, " I should say He died to 
save good people." " But did He die to save bad people ? " " No, 
sir ; no, certainly not, sir." " Well, then, what will become of you 
and me ? " " Well, sir, I do not know. I dare say you be pretty 
good, sir ; and I try to be as good as I can." That is just the 
common doctrine ; and after all, though we think it has died out 
among us, that is the religion of ninety-nine English people out 
of every hundred who know nothing of Divine grace : we are to 
be as good as we can ; we are to go to church or to chapel, and do 
all that we can, and then Jesus Christ died for us, and we shall be 
saved. Whereas the gospel is that He did not do anything at all 
for people who can rely on themselves, but gave Himself for lost 
and ruined ones. He did not come into the world to save self- 
righteous people ; on their own showing, they do not want to be 
saved. He comes because we need Him, and therefore He comes 
only to those who need Him ; and if we do not need Him, and are 
' T. Zahn, Bread amd Salt from the Word of Qod, 235. 


such good, respectable people, we must find our own way to heaven. 
Need, need alone, is that which quickens the physician's foot- 

2. That Christ's supreme purpose in coming was to heal men's 
souls means, further, that Christianity must be the universal 
religion. A religion which aims at the healing of spiritual 
disease, and which has confidence in its power to effect the cure, 
is entitled to supersede all other religions and to become the faith 
of all mankind ; and it will be well for the world when it has 
become such in fact. The world everywhere needs this religion, 
for sin is universal. 

It is not unlikely that the Pharisees had an instinctive per- 
ception that the new love for the sinful exhibited in the conduct 
of Jesus meant a religious revolution, the setting aside of Jewish 
exclusiveness, and the introduction of a new humanity, in which 
Jew and Gentile should be one. They might very easily arrive 
at this conclusion. They had but to reflect on the terms they 
employed to describe the objects of Christ's special care. 
Publicans were to them as heathens, and " sinners " was in their 
dialect a synonym for Gentiles. It might, therefore, readily 
occur to them that the man who took such a warm interest in the 
publicans and sinners of Judsea could have no objection, on 
principle, to fellowship with Gentiles, and that when His religion 
had time to develop its peculiar tendencies, it was likely to 
become the religion, not of the Jews alone, but of mankind. 

Whether the men who found fault with the sinner's Friend had 
so much penetration or not, it is certain at least that Jesus 
Himself was fully aware whither His line of action tended. He 
revealed the secret in the words, " I came not to call the 
righteous, but sinners." In describing His mission in these terms. 
He intimated in effect that in its ultimate scope that mission 
looked far beyond the bounds of Palestine, and was likely to have 
even more intimate relations with the outside world than with 
the chosen race. He knew too well how righteous his countrymen 
accounted themselves to cherish the hope of making a wide and 
deep impression upon them. He deemed it indeed a duty to try, 
and He did try faithfully and persistently, but always as one who 

' 0. H. Spurgeon. 

ST, MATTHEW ix. 12 235 

knew that the result would be that described in the sad words of 
the fourth evangelist, "He came unto his own, and his own 
received him not," And as He had an infinite longing to save, 
and was not content to waste His life, He turned His attention 
to more likely subjects ; to such as were not puffed up with the 
conceit of righteousness, and would not take it as an offence to 
be called sinners. Such He found among the degraded classes 
of Jewish society ; but there was no reason why they should be 
sought there alone. The world was full of sinners ; why, then, 
limit the mission to the sinful in Judsea ? Shall we say because 
the Jews were lesser sinners than the Gentiles ? But that would 
be to make the mission after all a mission to the righteous. If it 
is to be a mission to the sinful, let it be that out and out. Let 
Him who is intrusted with it say, " The greater the sinner the 
greater his need of Me." That was just what Christ did say in 
effect when He uttered with significant emphasis the words, " I 
came not to call the righteous, but sinners." It is, therefore, a 
word on which all men everywhere can build their hopes, a word 
by which the Good Physician says to every son of Adam, " Look 
unto me, and be saved," 

^ Christ's way with sinners was to love them, to believe in 
their recoverability. He tackled the outcasts as an object-lesson 
in the possibilities of a loved humanity. To preach His Gospel 
to men is to announce your faith in a Divine something in them 
which will respond to the Divine something you bring to them. 
It is this spirit which makes Christianity the most daring of 
optimisms ; which puts it into magnificent contrast with the 
fatalism of the East and the fatalism of the West. While 
Schopenhauer declares you can no more change the character of 
a bad man than the character of a tiger ; while Nietzsche sneers 
at the weak and exalts force and repression, the Gospel goes on 
hoping and goes on saving.^ 

' J. Brierley, Edigion and To-Day, 37, 

The Ministry of Small Things. 



Austin (G. B.), The Beauty of Goodness, 81. 

Binney (T.), Money, 220. 

Broughton (L. G.), Gh/risticmity and the Commonplace, 41. 

Burrell (D. J.), The Unaecountahle Man, 214. 

Carter (T. T.), Meditations on the Public Life of Ov/r Lord, i. 256. 

Jeffrey (G.), The Believer's Privilege, 73. 

Jones (J. M.), The Cup of Cold Water, 3. 

Maclaren (A.), A Year's Ministry, ii. 331. 

„ „ Expositions: St. Matthew ix.-xvii., 110. 

Parker (J.), The Cavendish Pulpit, i., No. 10. 
Smellie (A.), In the Hour of Silence, 201. 
Wiseman (N.), Children's Sermons, 136. 
Christian World Pulpit, Ixxx. 122 (J. C. Owen). 
Examiner, April 27, 1905 (J. H. Jowett). 
Homiletic Review, New Ser., zx. 626 (G. M. Meacham). 


The Ministry of Small Things. 

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of 
cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in 
no wise lose his reward, — Matt. x. 42. 

In ordinary circumstances there is scarcely any act that can have 
less about it of self-denial and self-sacrifice than the gift to any 
one of a cup of cold water. The water is so abundant, and the 
gift of it involves so little cost or care, that it is bestowed without 
thought of obligation, rendered and received without thought of 
any gratitude being due. Here, however, our Lord brings into 
play a principle which dignifies and ennobles the simplest acts, 
and gives signal value to the smallest gifts. It is not the value 
of the gift in itself, but the end the giver had in view, and the 
spirit in which he gave it ; it is not the gift, but the motive that 
the Lord causes to stand out in broadest relief before our eye. 
The gift may be great in itself, and yet, in so far as the spirit and 
motive of the giver are concerned, may be valueless. And, on 
the other hand, the gift or deed may be insignificant in itself, 
yet when coupled with the spirit and motive may be worthy of 
special cognizance and honour. More than all this — for here, 
withdrawing our minds from all vain and selfish motives, striking 
a death-blow at all self-seeking Pharisaism and hypocrisy, measur- 
ing men's acts by the high standard of genuine love to Himself, 
as represented in the person of a disciple — our Lord leads us 
particularly to note that all acts are noble — are worthy of honour 
and reward — only as the motives of the actor are unselfish and 
loving, and spring out of regard to Christ Himself and respect to 
His name and glory. Thus, if we were to place in one scale of 
the balance what men should reckon the noblest deed or the 
noblest gift with only the love of self in it,-and in the other scale 
the most insignificant act or gift with the love of Christ, and 
bestowed upon a disciple for His sake, that insignificant act or 



gift, thus freighted with love to Him, would immeasurably out- 
weigh the other. Not only so, but if we take the Saviour's 
estimate. He reckons the one as valueless, while He tells that the 
other shall not lack its reward. 

Little Things. 

1. Life's most perfect gifts, life's most perfect mercies, are little 
things. "A cup of cold water." We have sometimes become 
singularly blind. We set before ourselves as life's most perfect 
prizes, the summing up of life, the essence of its bliss, the things 
which the experience of every age has proved have no relation 
to genuine bliss at all. We strive and deny ourselves, become 
untrue to our divinest longings, strangle our noblest instincts in 
order to possess them, and they leave us hungry and haggard as 
ever. But it is common things, single things, that quench thirst ; 
not spiced wine, but the "cup of cold water." Health, work, 
genuine friendship, the caresses of little children, the love that 
set its hand in yours one beautiful morning five-and-twenty years 
ago, which has become deeper, richer, sweeter, as your head has 
grown grey. God's sweet, simple gifts ! A soul which is always 
young, which is as fresh in old age as when it came first from 
the hand of God. That is life's most precious wealth, life's most 
perfect gift — the " cup of cold water." 

^ I saw a rich man's Bible a little while ago, and on the 
inside cover there was gummed a little message of goodwill from 
a poor man, and the rich man found refreshment in it daily. It 
is a delightful study to go through the Epistles of St. Paul and 
to discover how many obscure people ministered to the great 
Apostle's refreshment. " The Lord give mercy unto the house of 
Onesiphorus ; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of 
my chain." " I was refreshed by the coming of Fortunatus and 
Achaius." These were all subordinate people; their names are 
linked with no great exploits ; but they gave cups of cold water 
to a mighty Apostle, and kept his spirit strong.^ 

2. Our real salvation, the things which refresh and put heart 
into us, are the simplicities of the gospel — the cup of cold water. 

' J, H. Jowett, in The Examiner, April 27, 1905. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 241 

Charles Kingsley was a scientist, but he was a poet also in every 
fibre of his soul ; and it is only a scientist who is a poet that can 
expound his own science. Charles Kingsley showed how the great 
volcanoes have been God's most glorious workers. Every harvest 
in the fruitful plains of Europe is due to the beneficent work of 
the volcanoes ages ago ; every grain of the rich soil was melted 
out of the solid granite. It is a romantic story, a perfect fairy 
tale, an enchantment, if you know how to read it, if you have the 
imagination to picture the whole process to yourself. But the 
embarrassed farmer with a hundred calls upon him, who finds it 
hard work to provide for his children, has little heart to think of 
those things ; he only wonders what the next harvest is going to 
be. So the great mysteries of theology — they ought to be studied. 
Depend upon it that to give up thinking is to impoverish the 
gospel. But those matters are not our real salvation. There 
come times when those things are not bread, but stones — a highly 
flavoured and elaborately cooked feast, but we cannot eat it. 
You have laid out the table grandly. Like Ahasuerus at his 
banquet, you have set out " vessels of gold " and poured " royal 
wine " into them ; but I am thirsty, and the fever is in my blood 
still ; I crave for " a cup of cold water." " God is love " ; " God 
80 loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son " ; " Believe 
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved " ; " Him that 
cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out " ; " Christ Jesus came 
into the world to save sinners " ; " Where I am, there shall ye be 
also " ; "I go to prepare a place for you " — that is the " cup of 
cold water " ; I drink deep of it ; it quenches my thirst ; I am 
young again ; despair is gone ; I am master of life ; nothing can 
quail me. It is the " cup of cold water " that we need. 

^ I have heard that during the battle of Fredericksburg there 
was a little patqh of ground which was occupied in turn by the 
contending forces. It was covered with the dead and the dying ; 
and all through the afternoon of a weary day the cry was heard, 
" Water, water ! " A Southern soldier begged of his captain to be 
allowed to answer those piteous cries, but met with the refusal, 
" No ; it would be certain death." He persisted, however, saying, 
" Above the roar of artillery and the crack of the muskets I hear 
those cries for water : let me go ! " He set out with a bucket of 
water and a tin cup ; for awhile the bullets sang around him, but 
he seemed to bear a charmed life. Then, as the Federals beyond 

ST. MATT. — 16 


the field perceived his purpose, the firing gradually ceased ; and 
for an hour and a half there was an armistice, while the soldier in 
grey, in full sight of both armies, went about on his errand of 
mercy. Verily, that was the truce of God ! 

And this was the kindness of our Lord. He came from 
heaven to bring the cup of cold water to dying men. Ah, that 
was the greatest kindness that ever was known. It was the most 
sublime heroism too. But the firing did not cease when He came 
to us with the water from the well beside the gate at Bethlehem ; 
His mercy toward us cost Him His hfe. What shall we render 
unto the Lord for His loving kindness ? ^ 


Small Services. 

1. There cannot seemingly be a more trivial service than a 
cup of cold water given to the passing traveller. So we think in 
this land, where springs of water and rivers abound, and where a 
cup of cold water can be so easily obtained. If, however, we go to 
the desert, as the weary traveller passes along it under the burning 
rays of an Eastern sun, how precious to him is the cup of cold 
water to allay his thirst ! There have been seasons of famine 
when a loaf of bread was of more value than gold, and when he 
who brought it was the messenger of life to those who were 
starving with hunger and staring death in the face. It may seem 
a very trifling thing to pay a visit to the house of a poor disciple 
and leave there with him some small token of Christian kindness ; 
yet the visit and the act may have been light and comfort to him 
in the hour of despondency and distress. The widow on our 
northern Highland coast who lost her only son in a storm because 
there was no light to guide his frail bark to the natural inlet of 
safety by the shore might seem to do a very slight thing when 
every evening thereafter at sundown she put her little lighted oil- 
lamp in the end window of her humble abode to burn till dawn of 
the morning ; yet the trifling act, as some might reckon it, was 
the safety of many of the island fishermen in nights of storm. 
Could we bring before our eye all the results of the acts that in 
themselves seem but slight and insignificant, but which love to 
' D. J. Burrell, The Unaccountable Man, 222. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 243 

Christ has evoked, it would be found that they have formed the 
starting-point of influences that have told materially upon the 
well-being of mankind. 

^ The other morning I saw an ingenious machine which told 
with the minutest exactitude the strength of a bar of metal put to 
the test. You had only to look at the indicator, and it told you 
within the hundredth fraction of a pound what weight that bar of 
metal could bear. So the smallest thing may indicate the force of 
Christian life; the store of Christian self-denial, the power of 
Christian service, there is in you.^ 

2. Few men have the opportunity of performing great things 
in the cause of the Lord. There are few that have great things, 
as these words are generally understood, to do in the way either of 
service or of sacrifice for Christ. All men cannot be missionaries, 
or devote the whole of their time to direct work in the vineyard 
of the Lord. All are not blessed with temporal abundance. Most 
Christian men are occupied in the business of the world, and have 
to engage in toil for their daily bread. Some, indeed, can 
command all their time, but most have little more than their 
Sabbaths and their savings to offer to the Master. They can give 
only a portion of their means and shreds of their time for labour 
in the vineyard of the Lord. They can give no more, for they 
have no more to give. But we can all do little things ; and there 
are a hundred little things round about us which we can do, and 
which are crying to be done. In one of the very greatest of his 
poems Wordsworth speaks of 

that best portion of a good man's life. 
His little, nameless, unremembered acts 
Of kindness and of love. 

And that is surely what every good man feels. If ever we have 
performed Heaven's highest ministry, and done some service which 
angels might have coveted, it has been in some hour when on a 
bleak hillside we found a lost sheep of the Good Shepherd, and 
bore it home to care, to love, and to safety. And it was all done 
so simply. No church was near. We came not to God by the 
path of beautiful service. We preached no sermon. We sat in 
the house of loneliness, where men go softly, as though they 
' J, M. Jones, The Gup of Cold Water, 13. 


feared a haunting spectre, and simply spoke of the many mansions 
in the Father's home. We watched for a brief hour beside a child 
while the fever held him in its power, and spoke words of delicate 
sympathy to the woman who was his mother. We smiled upon a 
man when he was in the bitterness of defeat. We spoke a word 
of encouragement to one who had a heavy burden to carry. And 
our acts were cups of cold water to dry and parched lips, and 
carried God's great hope and encouragement to hearts that were 
lonely and sad. 

^ Mrs. Deane, who had often been a guest at Bishopscourt, 
writes : " When I first went out to Capetown in 1898, a friend 
gave me an introduction to the Archbishop and Mrs. West Jones, 
and said to me, ' I have written about you to the Archbishop, and 
you will be right.' And so, indeed, I was ! The friendship I found 
at Bishopscourt, and my frequent visits to that lovely home, were 
the greatest happiness in my life at the Cape. Whatever the 
Archbishop did, he pat his whole heart into it at the time, and 
this, I think, was largely the secret of his great charm. When he 
was talking to any one, he made that person feel that, for the 
moment, he or she was his one interest in life. And so, again, 
his heart was in his work or in his recreation, whichever it might 
be. I think that the Archbishop will be remembered much by 
his ' faithfulness in little things ' — all those small details which go 
to make life pleasant. He liked to recollect and mark birthdays 
and other anniversaries, to give wedding presents, and to do all 
sorts of little, charming, unexpected acts of friendliness. He 
never omitted to answer a letter, either personally or by deputy, 
and I believe that he really enjoyed being asked to do kindnesses, 
if he had not already discovered his own way first. In more 
important matters he was ever ready to give advice and sympathy. 
Every one who knew him loved him. And no wonder ! " ^ 

What are we set on earth for ? Say, to toil ; 
Nor seek to leave thy tending of the vines. 
For all the heat o' the day, till it declines. 
And Death's mild curfew shall from work assoil. 
God did anoint thee with His odorous oil. 
To wrestle, not to reign ; and He assigns 
All thy tears over, like pure crystallines. 
For younger fellow-workers of the soil 
To wear for amulets. So others shall 
Take patience, labour, to their heart and hand, 

' M. H. M. Wood, A Father in God, : The Episcopate of W. West Jones, 448. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 245 

From thy hand, and thy heart, and thy brave cheer. 
And God's grace fructify through thee to all. 
The least flower, with a brimming cup, may stand, 
And share its dewdrop with another near.i 

3. The greatest things are poor, if the little things are not 
done — those minor courtesies which do so much to oil the wheels, 
to soften the jars, and to heal the heartaches of the world. 

Tf The most miserable homes I have ever known have often 
been those that ought to have been the happiest ; I envied them 
before I got to know the whole story. The house was a palace ; 
the head of the household had worked hard, had made money ; he 
could command every luxury, and it was his one pride that every- 
thing that money could command was at the disposal of every 
member of his home-circle; art had done its best, culture had 
added its sweetest ministries; everything there — everything but 
the delicate courtesies, the ingenious devices of love, which are 
life's most perfect graces.* 

^ In Oscar Wilde's tragic book, Br Profundis, the author t«lls 
us how unspeakably he was helped in his shame, when a friend 
paid him the common courtesy of lifting his hat in his presence ! 
But when these simplicities of life are consecrated they become 
sublimities, and they work the Lord's will with amazing fruitful- 
ness. I think what is needed, above many things in our time, is 
the sanctification of conventionalities. Some men's " Good morn- 
ing " falls upon your spirits like morning dew. There is one man 
in this city whom I sometimes meet upon a Sunday morning, and 
his "The Lord be with you" revives my spirit with the very 
ministry of grace. All these are cups of cold water.* 


The Motive. 

The true value of an action is to be measured by its motive. 
The cup of cold water must be given " in the name of a disciple," 
or, as St. Mark puts it, " because ye are Christ's." There is nothing 
uncommon in the act of giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty 
one. But when we give the cup of cold water to the little ones 

'■ E. B. Browning. 

» J. M. Jones, The Gup of Cold Water, 11. 

' J. H. Jowett, in The Mmmimr, April 27, 1905. 


upon whose brow we read the name of Christ, who died for them, 
then the action is raised to the moral sphere and wins the com- 
mendation of the Lord of the little ones. A common deed becomes 
uncommon when done in the name and for the sake of Christ, 
Eight motives transform men and their actions. 

1. The expression, " these little ones," refers to His disciple- 
band, whom He regards as little children in their want of experience 
and advantage. They had the undeveloped perceptions of a little 
child ; their spiritual senses were not sure and certain. They had 
a child's immaturity of mind, and a great thought overpowered 
them. They had a child's uncertainty of limb, and were easily 
made to stumble. They were " little ones " in the sphere of 
advantage. None of the " great ones " of the earth were among 
them. None of them occupied rank, or possessed wealth, or were 
adorned with culture. We find among them children of dis- 
advantage with their powers undisciplined and unknown. Mr. 
Feeble-mind was there. Mr. Little-faith was among them. Mr. 
Limp-will was of their number. And these " little ones " are 
among us in all times. The roads are full of them. We may find 
them by every wayside. And the Lord looks upon them with 
tender pity and solicitous love. 

T[ There is an Eastern story of a king who built a great temple 
at his own cost, no other one being allowed to do even the smallest 
part of the work. The king's name was put upon the temple as 
the builder of it. But, strange to say, when the dedication day 
came it was seen that a poor widow's name was there in place 
of the king's. The king was angry and gave command that the 
woman bearing the name on the scroll should be found. They 
discovered her at last among the very poor and brought her before 
the king. He demanded of her what she had done toward the 
building of the temple. She said, " Nothing." When pressed to 
remember anything she had done, she said that one day when 
she saw the oxen drawing the great stones past her cottage, 
exhausted in the heat and very weary, she had in pity given them 
some wisps of hay. And this simple kindness to dumb animals, 
prompted by a heart's compassion, weighed more in God's sight 
than all the king's vast outlay of money. What we truly do for 
Christ and in love is glorious in His sight.^ 

^ The Vision of Sir Launfal, by James Eussell Lowell, glows 

' J. E. Miller, Owr New Mens, 132. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 247 

with the glory of the right motive. Sir Launfal was a knight of 
the North Countree, who made a vow to travel over sea and land 
in search of the Holy Grail. Before his departure, he sleeps, and 
in the dreams of the night he sees a vision of what is and what 
will be. From the proudest hall in the North Countree, Sir 
Launfal flashed forth in his unscarred mail, and saw a leper 
crouching by his gate, who begged with his hand and moaned as 
he sat. A loathing came over the knight, for this man, foul and 
bent, seemed a blot on the summer morn. In scorn he tossed him 
a bit of gold. Years seemed to pass, for in our dreams we live an 
age in a moment. Sir Launfal, old and grey, returns from his 
weary quest to find his heir installed in his place. Unknown, he 
is turned away from his own door. 

As he sits down in the snow outside the gates, musing of 
sunnier climes, he hears once more the leper's voice, "For 
Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms." The knight turns to the 
sound and sees again the leper cowering beside him, lone and 
white : 

And Sir Launfal said, " I behold in thee 

An image of Him who died on the tree ; 

Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns. 

Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns. 

And to thy life were not denied 

The wounds in the hands and feet and side: 

Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me; 

Behold, through Him, I give to thee ! " 

So he parted in twain his single crust, and broke the ice of the 
stream and gave the leper to eat and drink. Then, lo ! a wondrous 
transformation took place. 

The leper no longer crouched at his side, 

But stood before him glorified, 

Shining and tall and fair and straight 

As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate, — 

Himself the Gate whereby men can 

Enter the temple of God in Man. 

And the voice that was softer than silence said, 

"Lo, it is I, be not afraid! 

In many climes, without avail. 

Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail; 

Behold, it is here, — this cup which thou 

Didst fill at the streamlet for Me but now; 


This crust is My body broken for thee, 
This water His blood that died on the tree; 
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed, 
In whatso we share with another's need ; 
Not what we give, but what we share, 
For the gift without the giver is bare; 
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, 
Himself, his hungering neighbour, and Me." 

Thus, with the true instinct of a prophet, did Lowell portray 
the right motive in its recognition. When Sir Launfal in scorn 
tossed the bit of gold to the leper, the Holy Grail was far away 
from the seeker ; but when he shared his crust in the name of 
Christ, he found what he sought. " Ye ask and receive not, 
because ye ask amiss." * 

2. Eeal goodness can never be conjBned to great acts only. It 
invests with sudden glory the life of him who ventures all and, 
leaving those things which men count dearest, goes to tell the 
story of the love of Jesus to men who sit in darkness and the 
shadow of death. But it also clothes with exquisite graciousness 
those who, by the lesser ministries of life, strive in all things to 
interpret the beauty of the spirit of God, and hour by hour to give 
fine revelations of the heart of Christ. It blazes out in some 
great piece of sacrifice or self-renunciation, but it shines with a 
persistent light in the exquisite self-forgetfulness of a life that 
desires only to do the will of Jesus. David consecrating great 
wealth to the building of a temple, and a poor widow casting two 
mites into the treasury ; Moses delivering a whole people from 
cruel bondage, and a simple unknown man giving a cup of cold 
water only to one who is hot after life's fierce battle — all these 
manifest one and the selfsame goodness, which is the heart's love 
and loyalty to God flowing through all our deeds and consecrating 
them all. 

^J When Edward Payson was dying, he said, " I long to give 
a full cup of happiness to every human being." If with such 
urgency of desire we should daily go out among men, how selfish- 
ness would perish out of our dealings with them ! What love 
would be in our homes ! What changes would be wrought in 
human society ! Now giving food to the needy, clothes to the 
naked, a toy to a child, opportunity for work to the unemployed, 

' J. 0. Owen. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 249 

a good book to one who will prize it as the thirsty do water — in 
such simple ways will streams be made to flow through life's 
deserts, and cups of comfort come to famishing lips.^ 


The Eewakd. 

Some people tell us that it is defective morality in Christianity 
to bribe men to be good by promising them heaven, and that he 
who is actuated by such a motive is selfish. Now that fantastic 
and overstrained objection may be very simply answered by two 
considerations : self-regard is not selfishness, and Christianity does 
not propose the future reward as the motive for goodness. The 
motive for goodness is love to Jesus Christ ; and if ever there was 
a man who did acts of Christian goodness only for the sake of 
what he would get by them, the acts were not Christian, because 
the motive was wrong. But it is a piece of fastidiousness to forbid 
us to reinforce the great Christian motive, which is love to Jesus 
Christ, by the thought of the recompense of reward. It is a 
stimulus and an encouragement, not the motive for goodness. 
This text shows us that it is a subordinate motive, for it says that 
the reception of a prophet, or of a righteous man, or of " one of 
these little ones," which is rewardable, is the reception " in the 
name of" a prophet, a disciple, and so on; or, in other words, 
recognizing the prophet, or the righteousness, or the disciple for 
what he is, and because he is that, and not because of the reward, 
receiving him with sympathy and solace and help. 

1. What is the reward of heaven ? " Eternal life," people say. 
Yes ! " Blessedness." Yes ! But where does the life come from, 
and where does the blessedness come from? They are both 
derived, they come from God in Christ ; and in the deepest sense, 
and in the only true sense, God is heaven, and God is the reward 
of heaven. "I am thy shield" so long as dangers need to be 
guarded against, and thereafter " thy exceeding great reward." It 
is the possession of God that makes all the heaven of heaven, the 
immortal life which His children receive, and the blessedness with 
which they are enraptured. We are heirs of immortality, we are 
1 G. M. Meacham, in The HomUetic Review, xx. 527. 


heirs of life, we are heirs of blessedness, because, and in the 
measure in which, we become heirs of God. 

^ " You forgot to mention where heaven is," said the good lady 
to her pastor after a sermon on the better land. " On yonder 
hill-top stands a cottage, madam," replied the man of God; "a 
widow lives there in want ; she has no bread, no fuel, no medicine, 
and her child is at the point of death. If you will carry to her 
this afternoon some little cup of cold water in the name of Him 
who went about doing good, you will find the answer to your 
inquiry." ^ 

2. In heaven as on earth men will get just as much of God as 
they can hold ; and in heaven as on earth capacity for receiving 
God is determined by character. The gift is one, the reward is 
one, and yet the reward is infinitely various. It is the same light 
which glows in all the stars, but " star differeth from star in glory." 
It is the same wine, the new wine of the Kingdom, that is poured 
into all the vessels, but the vessels are of divers magnitudes, 
though each be full to the brim. 

3. The reward is both present and future. 

(1) There is present compensation for doing good. It is im- 
possible to do good with a loving heart to Christ without growing 
good. Every act of kindness done in the name of a disciple, and 
every work engaged in and prosecuted for His sake, and every 
gift conscientiously made and bestowed for the advancement of 
His glory, expands the heart, enlarges the sympathies, and 
deepens the sources of its joy. There is no such pleasure to the 
heart as that which proceeds from a deed of Christian benevolence 
and kindness, done from love to the Saviour and His cause. 
Besides, the heart's true pleasure is increased in the proportion 
that it is opened by the expanding power of true Christian love 
through acts of Christian kindness done for the Saviour's sake. 
The deed reacts in blessing on the doer. Every lesson of Chris- 
tian truth which a Sabbath-school teacher imparts makes more 
precious to him the water of life as he fills up his cup with bless- 
ing for the souls of others. Every word we utter for Christ, every 
deed we perform, every gift we bestow, is even now in its reactive 
influence a present reward. 

' M. J. McLeod, Heavenly Hwrmomesfor Earthly Living, 38. 

ST. MATTHEW x. 42 251 

^ Expositors of sacred Scripture have spoken diversely con- 
cerning these rewards. For some say that all of them refer to 
the future bliss : as Ambrose, on Luke. But Augustine says that 
they pertain to the present life. Whereas Chrysostom says in 
his Homilies that some of them pertain to the future life, but 
some to the present. For the elucidation of which we are to con- 
sider that the hope of future bliss may exist in us in virtue of two 
things: first, in virtue of a certain preparation or qualification 
for future bliss, which comes through merit; and secondly, by 
virtue of a certain imperfect beginning of future bliss in holy men, 
even in this life. For the promise of fruit in a tree is there in 
one fashion when it throws out its green foliage ; but in another 
fashion when the first formation of the fruit begins to appear. 
And thus the merits spoken of in the Beatitudes are of the nature 
of preparations or qualifications for blessedness, whether perfect 
or incipient. Whereas the rewards set forth may be either the 
perfect bliss itself, in which case they pertain to the future hfe : 
or a certain beginning of bliss, as found in perfect men, and in 
that case they pertain to the present life. For as soon as a man 
begins to make progress in the acts appropriate to the virtues and 
(spiritual) gifts, there may be good hope of him that he shall come 
to the perfection alike of the pilgrimage [of earth] and of the 
fatherland [of heaven].^ 

^ In helping others we benefit ourselves ; we heal our own 
wounds in binding up those of others.* 

(2) The highest reward will come hereafter. The present life 
is only the seed-plot of eternity. "Nothing human ever dies." 
All our deeds drag after them inevitable consequences ; but if you 
will put your trust in Jesus Christ He wiU not deal with you 
according to your sins, nor reward you according to your in- 
iquities ; and the darkest features of the recompense of your evil 
will all be taken away by the forgiveness which we have in His 
blood. If you will trust yourselves to Him you will have that 
eternal life which is not wages, but a gift ; which is not reward, 
but a free bestowment of God's love. And then, built upon that 
foundation on which alone men can build their hopes, their 
thoughts, their characters, their lives, however feeble may be our 
efforts, however narrow may be our sphere, — though we be neither 
prophets nor sons of prophets, and though our righteousness may 

' St. Thomas Aquinas, Swmma Theologica, Prima Seoundse, Ixix. § 2. 
' St. Ambrose. 


be all stained and imperfect, yet, to our own amazement and to 
God's glory, we shall find, when the fire is kindled which reveals 
and tests our works, that, by the might of humble faith in Christ, 
we have built upon that foundation, gold and silver and precious 
stones ; and shall receive the reward given to every man whose 
work abides that trial by fire. 

"My day has all gone" — 'twas a woman who spoke, 
As she turned her face to the sunset glow — 

"And I have been busy the whole day long; 
Yet for my work there is nothing to show." 

No painting nor sculpture her hand had wrought ; 

No laurel of fame her labour had won. 
What was she doing in all the long day, 

With nothing to show at set of sun? 

Humbly and quietly all the long day 
Had her sweet service for others been done; 

Yet for the labours of heart and of hand 
What could she show at set of sun? 

Ah, she forgot that our Pather in heaven 

Ever is watching the work that we do. 
And records He keeps of all we forget. 

Then judges our work with judgment that's true; 

For an angel writes down in a volume of gold 

The beautiful deeds that all do below. 
Though nothing she had at set of the sun, 

The angel above had something to show. 

The Great Invitation. 



Allon (H.), The IndwelKng Christ, 43. 

Beecher (H. W.), Hen/ry Wwrd Beedier in England, 101. 

Brandt (J. L.), Soul Saving, 251. 

Burrell (D. J.), The Wondrous Cross, 18. 

Burrows (W. 0.), The Mystery of the Cross, 141. 

Chapman (H. B.), Sermons in Symbols, 8. 

Clark (H. W.), Laws of the Inner Kingdom, 98. 

Curnock (N.), Comfortable Words, 56. 

Denney (J.), The Way Everlasting, 308. 

Dods (M.), Christ and Mam, 38. 

Holden (J. S.), The Pre-eminent Lord, 180. 

Hopkins (E. H.), The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, 79. 

Hutton (W. R.), Low Spirits, 147. 

Kelman (J.), Redeeming Judgment, 19. 

Maclaren (A.), A Bosary of Christian Cfraees, 145. 

Morgan (G. C), The Missionary Manifesto, 143. 

Neville (W. G.), Sermons, 9. 

Owen (J. W.), Some Australian Sermons, 93. 

Pierson (A. T.), in Dr. Pierton and His Message, 233. 

Rate (J.), Leaves from the Tree of Life, 119. 

Russell (A.), The Light that Lighteth Every Man, 293. 

Shepard (J. W.), Light and Life, 279. 

Temple (W.), Bepton School Sermons, 84. 

Christian World Pulpit, xii. 142 (A. P. Peabody); xxiv. 30 (H. W. 

Beecher) ; xlii. 102 (G. MacDonald) ; Ixiv. 289 (W. B. Carpenter) ; 

Ixvii. 246 (C. S. Home) ; Ixviii. 183 (E. Rees). 
Church of England Pulpit, Ixi. 414 (H. E. Ryle), 
Weekly Pulpit, i. 71 (G. H. Spurgeon). 


The Great Invitation. 

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest— Matt. xi. 28. 

1, There were several reasons which made this gracious invita- 
tion and glorious promise specially appropriate to the age in 
which it was spoken. It was an age of political revolution. The 
old Eoman Empire was breaking up, and already the seeds were 
being sown in it which left it, a few hundred years afterwards, 
an easy prey to the incursions of the Goths. It was an age of 
moral collapse. The old stern morality which had made Eome 
was breaking up like rotten ice. Marriage became a mere tem- 
porary convenience, which lasted for a time and then was laid 
aside. It was an age of social unrest. It was an age of much 
despair in individual souls. As always, with the decay of faith 
came in the prevalence of suicide. 

When all the blandishments of life are gone. 
The coward slinks to death, the brave live on. 

And the great number of suicides at that time in the Eoman 
Empire pointed to the despair which was creeping over soul after 
soul. It was in the midst of such a world that Jesus Christ 
uttered this splendid invitation : " Come unto me, all ye that 
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 

^ " Despair is the vilest of words." That expresses Fitzjames's 
whole belief and character. Faith may be shaken and dogmas 
fade into meaningless jumbles of words : science may be unable to 
supply any firm ground for conduct. Still we can quit ourselves 
like men. From doubt and darkness he can still draw the 
practical conclusion, "Be strong and of a good courage." And 
therefore, Fitzjames could not be a pessimist in the proper sense ; 
for the true pessimist is one who despairs of the universe. Such 
a man can only preach resignation to inevitable evil, and his best 



hope is extinction. Fitzjames goes out of Ms way more than 
once to declare that he sees nothing sublime in Buddhism. 
" Nirvana," he says in a letter, " always appeared to me to be at 
bottom a cowardly ideal. For my part I like far better the 
Carlyle or Calvinist notion of the world as a mysterious hall of 
doom, in which one must do one's fated part to the uttermost, 
acting and hoping for the best and trusting that somehow or 
other our admiration of the 'noblest human qualities' will be 

2. Those to whom Jesus spoke that day in Galilee were con- 
spicuously the labouring and the heavy laden. They were a 
labouring and a heavy-laden people, because they were in the 
worst sense a conquered people. The lake district was rich in 
national products, the fields brought forth largely, and the lake 
with its fishings was a very mine of wealth. But the land was 
overrun by the invader. The conqueror's tax-gatherer was every- 
where to be seen, and the wealth of Galilee went to feed the 
luxury of Eome. Hence the husbandmen and fishermen in the 
worst sense laboured and were heavy laden. Their rich crops 
fell to their sickle, their nets were often full to the point of 
breaking, necessitating hard toU to bring them to the shore, but 
the tax-gatherer stood over the threshing-floor and in the market, 
and swept the profits into the emperor's hands. Nor did their 
revolts bring them anything but harder labours and a heavier 
load. Their wrestling and struggling only procured them the 
sharp pricking of the goad and the firmer binding on their 
shoulders of the yoke. 

^ How large the taxes were in Palestine about the time of 
Christ will probably never be known. Shortly after Herod's 
death a committee of Jews stated to the emperor that Herod had 
filled the nation full of poverty and that they had borne more 
calamities from Herod in a few years than their fathers had 
during all the interval of time that had passed since they had 
returned from Babylon in the reign of Xerxes. It is said that he 
exacted about three million dollars from the people. His children 
did not receive quite that amount, but to raise what they received 
and what the Eoman government demanded, nearly everything 
had been taxed. There was a tax on the produce of land, one- 
tenth for grain and one-fifth for wine and fruit. There was a tax 
^ Leslie Stephen, Life of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, 458, 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 257 

of one denarius on every person, exempting only aged people over 
sixty-five years, and girls and boys under the age of twelve and 
fourteen respectively. Then there was an income-tax. There 
were also taxes levied on trades, such as that of hosier, weaver, 
furrier, and goldsmith, and on movable property, such as horses, 
oxen, asses, ships, and slaves. The duties paid on imported goods 
varied from two and one-half to twelve per cent. Then the 
homes were taxed, at least the city homes, and there was bridge 
money and road money to be paid. There was also a tax on what 
was publicly bought and sold, for the removal of which tax the 
people pleaded with Archelaus, apparently in vain. Besides this, 
every city had its local administration, and raised money to pay 
its officials, maintain and build synagogues, elementary schools, 
public baths, and roads, the city walls, gates, and other general 
requirements. Tacitus relates how the discontent occasioned by 
the burdensome taxation in the year 17 a.d. assumed a most 
threatening character not only in Judea, but also throughout 
Syria. Taxes were farmed out to the highest bidders, who in 
turn would farm them out again. They who got the contract 
were not paid by the government from the taxes they collected, 
so that their support, or income, must be added to the taxes. 
How large that was we cannot -know, but it was very large, as the 
collectors would, taking advantage of their position, often be very 
extortionate. Amid these unfortunate economic conditions — 
anarchy, war, extravagance, and taxation — the people grew 
poorer and poorer. Business became more and more interrupted, 
and want, in growing frequency, showed its emaciated features.^ 

3. But the national feeling which held them together as a 
people, had it not its side of faith ? It had not. Faith, as it found 
expression in the Eabbi's words, only added a thousand times to 
the labour and the yoke. What of money the tax-gatherer left 
the priest devoured, and what the priest left the scribe laid hands 
upon ; and as the masses sank deeper and deeper in poverty, only 
the more were there heaped upon them the curses of the law. 
Eobbery, impiety, cursing, were all the multitude saw in faith. 
Can we not picture that weary crowd of waiting men and women, 
with, as Carlyle says, " hard hands, crooked, coarse ; their rugged 
faces all weather-tanned, besoiled; their backs all bent, their 
straight limbs and fingers so deformed; themselves, as it were, 
encrusted with the thick adhesions and defacements of their 

1 G. D. Houver, The Teachings of Jesus Concerning Wealth, 31. 
ST. MATT. — 1^ 


hopeless labour ; and seeing no cause to believe in, and no hope 
for rest " ? But Jesus spoke of rest, and not idly, or to delude 
them with a dream. He, like themselves, was a toiler, and 
offered no hope that with His own hand He would drive out the 
Eoman, or even put the priest and scribe to flight. He did not 
speak of rest in the sense of relief from labour. His exhortation, 
"Take my yoke upon you," makes that conclusive. His relief 
and rescue were along a totally different line. Eest can be under- 
stood only when labour is properly undertaken. When work is 
regarded as a task, then the only possible rest is relief from it. 
If, however, labour is undertaken as cordial service, it is quite 
different. Best may then mean additional labour; it does then 
mean harmony and peace of mind and soul. 

^ " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and 
I will refresh you." It is thus that this saying of Jesus is 
rendered in the Latin Bible, and, after it, in the version of old John 
Wycliffe. And thus rendered, it was associated by the devout 
men of mediaeval days with the sacred ordinance of the Supper. 
" Thou biddest me," says St. Thomas k Kempis, " confidently 
approach Thee, if I would have part with Thee ; and accept the 
nourishments of immortality, if I desire to obtain eternal life and 
glory. ' Come,' sayest Thou, ' unto me, all ye that labour and 
are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.' " ^ 

The Call. 

" Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden." 

1. In the history of the world was ever an utterance made 
like this ? Was ever a claim of power or an assertion of supre- 
macy so vast, so calm, so confident? Could we have endured 
it from one of the teachers of the world — from Socrates, from 
Seneca, from Isaac Newton, from Kant, or from Shakespeare? 
Would not its utterance have repelled and disgusted us ? Its 
arrogance would have been intolerable. And yet have these 
words from the lips of Christ ever produced repulsion ? Is it not 
the case that they have ever been regarded as among the most 
' D. Smith, The Feast of the Covenant, 123. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 259 

gracious and lovely of the Saviour's words ? And why so ? Has 

it not been because it was known and felt that these were the 
words of Him who was God as well as Man ? They follow in this 
chapter of St. Matthew the verse in which Jesus has said, " All 
things have been delivered unto me of my Father." The beauty 
and the sweetness of the invitation, "Come unto me," depend 
upon the sovereign right to give it. He who is the Son of God 
as well as the Son of Man alone has the right. In His mouth 
alone such words possess not only beauty but also the force of 

Thus we see that beneath the tenderness of this evangelical 
message, "Come unto me," lies the bed-rock foundation of the 
Christian faith, that Christ is God as well as Man. Call it dogma ; 
if dogma be the epitome of belief, it is the dogma of dogmas. 
Call it Christian truth ; it is the one truth without which Christi- 
anity fades into an airy system of baseless speculation, and its 
claims shrink and shrivel to the dimensions of a human imposture. 
It is the Divinity of our Lord that makes these word^ of His so 
splendid and inspiring in their strength and comprehensiveness. 
There is no hesitation in their tone ; they strike no apologetic or 
self-depreeiatoiy note. It is not the outcome of long argument to 
advance or prove His claims. It is not the vague pronouncement 
of bliss and reward upon those who followed His cause. No ; it 
is the simple authoritative personal invitation of Christ to the 
people of the world ; it is an imperial message given in infinite 
love and proclaimed with infinite power to the souls of men and 
women. And we, whether we teach it to our children or repeat 
it to the dying, can attach no adequate meaning to the words 
unless we are convinced in our hearts that He who spoke them 
was God as well as Man, and could really give what He promised. 

^ We are making trial of the belief that in Christ we see the 
Power by which the world is governed — the Almighty. But the 
world, if we regard its present condition in isolation, is most 
manifestly not governed by any such Power. The Sin and Pain 
of the world we know cannot be themselves the goal of the 
Purpose of God, if God is the Father of Jesus Christ. Either 
then Christ is not the revelation of God, or else the world as we 
see it does not express its real meaning. Only, in fact, as Christ 
is drawing men to Himself from generation to generation is the 
victory over evil won, and His claim to reveal the Father vindi- 


cated ; we can only regard Him as Divine, and supreme over the 
world, if we can regard Him as somehow including in His 
Personality all mankind. If the Life of Christ is just an event in 
human history, what right have we to say that the Power which 
directs that history is manifest here rather than in Julius 
Caesar or even Nero ? We can only say this, if He is drawing all 
men to Himself so that in Him we see what mankind is destined 
to become.^ 

2. The call is addressed to all who labour and are heavy laden. 
To all ; not merely to a few favoured souls, not merely to the 
Jews ; it is an invitation to mankind. Our Lord, when He uttered 
the words, was looking out with the gaze of Omniscience across 
the ages. He saw each human soul, with its capacity for eternal 
blessedness or endless loss. Generation after generation swept 
before His vision, as He longed that they might all come unto 
Him and find rest. No one is excluded, for all need the healing of 
Christ. Christ saw — as the painter of "The Vale of Tears" has 
vividly portrayed in his last picture — all conditions of men, weary 
of the sorrows, trials and burdens of human life, as well as of 
its pleasures, ambitions and prizes, when He uttered the tender, 
authoritative, universal invitation, " Come unto me." 

(1) First, He invites those who labour; or, perhaps more 
correctly, all who are toiling. Can we venture to reconstruct the 
scene? Close beside Him stand His immediate disciples, who 
alone had been privileged to hear the language of His prayer. 
But beyond the circle of His immediate followers is gathered a 
crowd of the inhabitants of Capernaum, who had been passing 
homeward at the close of the day. Labourers would be there in 
plenty, coming back from their toil in the fields; women also, 
returning from the market or the well; and fishermen too, 
doubtless, who had stopped awhile to listen on the way to their 
nocturnal labours on the deep. On the outskirts of the crowd 
there might be others, shop-keepers, working men, and farmers ; 
and perhaps women such as Mary Magdalene, for Magdala was 
not far from Capernaum. Such, in some degree at least, was the 
character of the multitude on whom our Lord's eyes could rest. 
And as He gazed upon that group of peasants, representative as 
they were of human weariness and suffering, there welled up in 

' W. Temple, in Foundations, 245. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 261 

His heart a great compassion for the souls before Him, weighed 
down with a load that was too heavy for them to bear. So, con- 
scious of His power to alleviate the woes and sorrows of humanity 
and to lighten the common burdens of mankind. He who claimed 
a knowledge of the unknown God, and had been rejoicing in 
communion with the Father, opened His arms to the listening 
multitude and cried, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are 
heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 

(2) But Christ called not only those who labour or toil ; He 
called those also who are burdened or heavy laden to Him. As 
the idea of toil refers to what we may call the active side of life, 
to what we do or attempt to do, so the term " heavy laden " or 
" burdened " refers to the passive side, to that which we bear or 
endure. Frequently this latter is a condition added to, or even 
responsible for, the former. We may be toiling while we are 
heavy laden, or our work may actually be toil because while we 
work we have also to bear a heavy burden. If we consider 
the burdens of life they fall into two classes; we may term 
these the self-imposed and the inevitable : those which are due, 
and those which are not due, to our own actions. And many 
of us would be surprised, after a strict self-examination, to find 
how large a proportion of the whole of our burdens the self-imposed 
ones are. We may not like to confess this, but still it is true. The 
burdens imposed by carelessness and thoughtlessness, by sin in the 
present and in the past, by the force of evil habits which have 
been allowed to grow unchecked, by our declining to exercise self- 
discipline and by our refusing to submit to the wise discipline of 

others all these various not inevitable burdens will be found to 

outweigh and outnumber the burdens which are really outside our 

own control. 

(3) What must especially have distressed Jesus and filled Him 
with pity was that men turned their very religion into a burden 
and a toil. That which was meant to give them strength to bear 
all other burdens they turned into an additional load. Instead of 
using their carriage to carry themselves and all their belongings, 
they strove to take it on their backs and carry it. All that 
religion seemed to do for them was to make life harder, to fill it 
with a thousand restrictions and fretting duties. They toiled to 
keep a multitude of observances which no man could keep ; they 


bound heavy burdens of penances and duties and laid them on 
their backs, as if thus they could please God. The sinner was in 
despair, and the religious man a heartless performer. They had 
fancied that God was like themselves, a poor little creature, 
revengeful, spiteful, liking to see men suffering for sin and crushed 
under His petty tyrannies. They thought of a God who must 
be propitiated by careful and exact performances and to whom the 
sinner could find access only after crushing penances. As if the 
pain of sin were not enough, and as if the bitterness of a misspent 
life were not itself intolerable, they sought to embitter life still 
further by emptying it of all natural joy and by hampering it 
with countless scruples. 

^ The kernel of the law was found in the Jewish scriptures. 
But this was augmented by four tremendous accumulations. 
First, there was the Mishna, which was an elaborate reiteration 
of the law with innumerable embellishments. Then there was 
the Midrash, which consisted of volumes of the minutest explana- 
tions of the meaning of every part of the law. Then there were 
other bulky tomes called the Talmud, which was a formulation of 
the law into doctrine at portentous length. And finally there 
was an intricate mass of comments and legal decisions of the 
Eabbis. And for a Jew to live right he must be in complete 
harmony with all this mass of accumulated tradition, speculation, 
allegory, and fantastic comment. And as every Eabbi had the 
right and, indeed, the duty to add to it, it is easy to see how the 
burden would grow. Rabbis were said to make the law heavy, to 
burden people, and many of them regarded this as their chief 

(4) But primarily Christ addressed Himself to the sin 
problem. Indisputably sin is the cause of all unrest, the poison 
which has fevered every life. Sin is the root of all the weakness 
and weariness which rob life of its true quality. Sin it is that 
blurs the vision of God, and blinds men to His unfailing nearness 
and help, as also to the true issues of life, for the realizing of 
which they do so much need Him. And when Christ offers rest 
to the weary and heavy laden. He is proposing to deal with the 
sin which has created their need. 

^ Sin is the greatest disturbance of men's souls, far deeper 
than any agitation or pertui'bation that may arise from external 

1 N. H. MarsbiiU, 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 263 

circumstances. It is our unlawful desires that shake us ; it is our 
unlawful acts that disturb us, rousing conscience, which may 
speak accusingly or be ominously silent, and, in either case, will 
disturb our true repose. As our great dramatist has it, " Macbeth 
has murdered sleep." There is no rest for the man whose 
conscience is stinging him, as, more or less, all consciences do 
that are not reconciled and quieted by Christ's great sacrifice. 
Such an one is like the troubled sea " that cannot rest, whose 
waters cast up mire and dirt " ; whilst they who come to Jesus 
are like some little tarn amongst the hills, surrounded by 
sheltering heights, that " heareth not the loud winds when they 
call," and has no more movement than is enough to prevent 
stagnation, while its little ripples kiss the pure silver sand on the 
beach ; and in their very motion there is rest.^ 

^ Browning has suggested that, among those who heard the 
Lord Jesus invite the weary and heavy laden to come to Him, was 
one of the two robbers who were eventually crucified at His side. 
The poem describes the emotions which passed through the man's 
soul, and he is made to say : 

The words have power to haunt me. Long ago 
I heard them from a Stranger — One who turned, 
And looked upon me as I went, and seemed 
To know my face, although I knew Him not. 
The face was weary; yet He spoke 
Of giving rest — He needed rest, I think — 
Yet patiently He stood and spoke to those 
Who gathered round Him, and He turned 
And looked on me. He could not know 
How sinful was my life, a robber's life. 
Amid the caves and rocks. And yet He looked 
As though He knew it all, and, knowing, 
Longed to save me from it. 

It may have been so, or it may not. Browning's fancy may 
have a basis in fact; we cannot tell. But this at least we know 
— that he who suffered by the side of Jesus is one of those who 
have proved the truth of His saying, and have found Him able to 
make good His word." 

1 A. Maclaren, A Sosary of Christiam, Graces, 152. 

» H. T. Knight. 



The Gift. 

" I will girt you rest.'' 

I. Eest, then, is a gift; it is not earned. It is not the 
emolument of toil ; it is the dowry of grace. It is not the prize 
of endeavour, its birth precedes endeavour, and is indeed the 
spring and secret of it. It is not the perquisite of culture, for 
between it and culture there is no necessary and inevitable 
communion. It broods in strange and illiterate places, untouched 
by scholastic and academic refinement, but it abides also in 
cultured souls which have been chastened by the manifold ministry 
of the schools. It is not a work, but a fruit ; not the product of 
organization, but the sure and silent issue of a relationship. 
" Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest." 

^ " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and 
I will give you rest." Who but would test this gracious promise ? 
Who is altogether free from the heavy load of pain, either bodily, 
mental, or spiritual? Yet how many spend half their lives in 
vainly seeking rest! If ever there was a question which it 
concerns us all to answer it is this, Where is rest to be found ? 
The larger part of mankind seek it in wealth, in honours, in 
worldly ease ; but they do not find it. Covetousness, greed, envy, 
fraud, conspire to spoil all thought of rest in the good things of 
this world. Others seek rest in themselves, but what can be 
expected from our weak, changeable natures ? Society, literature, 
science may occupy, but they cannot satisfy or rest, the heart. 
There is no rest for the heart of man save in God, who made him 
for Himself. But how shall we rest in God? By giving our- 
selves wholly to Him. If you give yourselves by halves, you 
cannot find full rest — there will ever be a lurking disquiet in that 
half which is withheld; and for this reason it is that bo few 
Christians attain to a full, steadfast, unchanging peace — they do 
not seek rest in God only, or give themselves up to Him without 
reserve. True rest is as unchanging as God Himself — like Him 
it rises above all earthly things : it is secret, abundant, without a 
regret or a wish. It stills all passion, restrains the imagination, 
steadies the mind, controls all wavering : it endures alike in the 
time of tribulation and the time of wealth; in temptation and 
trial, as when the world shines brightly on us. Christ tells you 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 265 

of His peace which the world can neither give nor take away, 
because it is God'e gift only. Such peace may undergo many an 
assault, but it will be confirmed thereby, and rise above all that 
would trouble it. He who has tasted it would not give it in ex- 
change for all this life can give : and death is to him a passage 
from this rest to that of eternity.^ 

2. Many of the great gifts of life are not transmissible. Ask 
the artist for the power by which he gives ua the inspired painting, 
ask the poet for the power by which he is able to sing and touch 
men's hearts into enthusiasm, and they cannot give it. There is 
always just the inexpressible something which they can never 
impart. It is the spirit of the thing, which is incommunicable, 
the Divine touch ; the fairy has not given her kiss at birth. But 
here is Christ who can impart restfulness of soul, that which 
transforms the soul from being worldly and agitated to being a 
spirit possessed of calm. It seems to be a miracle that a subtle 
quality should be transmissible from the Lord to His disciples. 
Here He stands above all other instructors in being able to pass 
on that which otherwise is incommunicable, but which, in His 
hand, has been a real persistent heritage in the Church. 

^ On the way to Chapra from Eatnapur Miss Dawe, of the 
Church of England Zenana Mission at Eatnapur, told me of a 
Hindu with whom God's Spirit worked before he met any 
missionary and gave him a sense of sin, so that he became dis- 
satisfied. He visited various places of pilgrimage seeking rest. 
One day he picked up a piece of paper on which were written the 
words : " Come unto me, and I will give you rest." He did not 
know where they came from and went inquiring from one to another. 
At length a fakir who had heard something of Christianity told 
him they were to be found in the Christian books. Then he came 
to a C.M.S. Mission at Krishnagar, where he was instructed, and 
a Bible given him, and he was baptized. Then his great desire 
was for his wife. He wrote to her telling her he was a Christian, 
and asking her to come to him. She was a remarkable woman, 
and had taught herself to read through her little brother, who 
went to school. She consented to come to him, as she was his 
wife. There was great opposition from the family, but he carried 
her off. On his way he passed a tree where Miss Dawe was 
preaching, and took his wife to her. Miss D. was astonished that 
she knew how to read, and put a New Testament into her hand 
1 Jean Nicolas Grou, The Hidden Life of Ood. 


On opening it, her eye fell on : " Let not your heart be troubled " 
— ^just the word for her. Miss D. pitched her tent near her village 
and gave her a course of instruction every day for some weeks. 
At the end she wished to be baptized. This was many years ago. 
They are now in Calcutta, working in connexion with the London 
Missionary Society.* 

3. The rest which Christ gives is based on a perfect reconcile- 
ment to God. He gives us an eternal settlement, adjusting us 
to a place which we feel to be thoroughly suitable, and satisfying 
all in us which we feel deserves to be satisfied. He gives us rest 
by making life intelligible and by making it worthy ; by showing 
us how through all its humbling and sordid conditions we can live 
as God's children ; by delivering us from guilty fear of God and 
from sinful cravings ; by setting us free from all foolish ambitions 
and by shaming us out of worldly greed and all the fret and fever 
that come of worldly greed ; by filling our hearts with realities 
which still our excited pursuit of shadows, and by bringing into 
our spirit the abiding joy and strength of His love for us. We 
enter into the truest rest when we believe that He takes part 
with us and that we can depend upon Him. 

What the man who is burdened with a bad conscience needs 
is the assurance that there is a love in God deeper and stronger 
than sin. Not a love which is indifferent to sin or makes light 
of it. Not a love to which the bad conscience, which is so tragic- 
ally real to man, and so fatally powerful in his life, is a mere 
misapprehension to be ignored or brushed aside as insignificant. 
No, but a love to which sin, and its condemnation in conscience, 
and its deadly power, are all that they are to man, and more ; a 
love which sees sin, which feels it, which is wounded by it, which 
condemns and repels it with an annihilating condemnation, yet 
holds fast to man through it all with Divine power to redeem, 
and to give final deliverance from it. This is what the man 
needs who is weighed down and broken and made impotent by a 
bad conscience, and this is what he finds when he comes to Jesus. 

I hear the low voice call that bids me come, — 
Me, even me, with all my grief opprest, 
With sins that burden my unquiet breast, 

And in my heart the longing that is dumb, 

' Li/e Radiant : Memorials of the Sev. Frcmeis PayrUer, 144. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 28 267 

Yet beats forever, like a muffled drum, 
Tor all delights whereof I, dispossest, 
Pine and repine, and find nor peace nor rest 

This side the haven where He bids me come. 

He bids me come and lay my sorrows down, 

And have my sins washed white by His dear grace; 

He smiles — what matter, then, though all men frown? 
Naught can assail me, held in His embrace; 

And if His welcome home the end may crown, 
Shall I not hasten to that heavenly place ?^ 

4, The rest which Christ gives is not rest from toil, but rest in 
toil. That toil may be excessive, may be incompatible with health, 
may be very slightly remunerative, may be accompanied with condi- 
tions which are disagreeable, painful, depressing ; but Christ does 
not emancipate the individual from this toil. He does indeed 
slowly influence society so that the slave awakes to his rights and 
the slave-owner acknowledges them ; and so that aU grievances 
which oppress the various sections of society are at length 
measured by Christ's standard of righteousness and charity, and 
tardy but lasting justice is at length done. But until the whole 
of society is imbued with Christian principle thousands of indi- 
viduals must suffer, and often suffer more intensely because they 
are Christians. Yet even to ordinary toil Christ brings what may 
well be called " rest." The Christian slave has thoughts and hopes 
that brighten his existence ; he leads two lives at once — the over- 
driven, crushed, hopeless life of the slave, and the hopeful, free, 
eternal. Divine life of Christ's free man. And, wherever in the 
most shameful parts of our social system the underpaid and over- 
driven workman or workwoman believes in Christ, there rest 
enters the spirit — the hunger, the cold, the tyrannous selfishness, 
the blank existence are outweighed by the consciousness of 
Christ's sympathy, and by the sure hope that even through all 
present distress and misery that sympathy is guiding the soul to 
a lasting joy and a worthy life. And surely this is glory indeed, 
that from Christ's words and life there should shine through all 
these centuries a brightness that penetrates the darkest shades of 
modern life and carries to broken hearts a reviving joy that 
nothing else can attempt to bring, 

' Lonise Cbuidler Moulton, In the Oardm iff Dreami, 


^ There is a sweet monastery in Florence, fragrant with sacred 
memories, rich with blessed history to the religious soul. Its 
very dust is dear, for there the saintly Bishop Antonio lived as 
Christ lived, and there the prophetic Savonarola wore out his 
noble heart, and there also lived the pious painter, Fra Barto- 
lommeo. It stands the forlorn relic of a dream. And even yet it 
breathes of the true domestic peace, with secluded cloisters where 
the noise of the city is hushed ; with its little cells, whose bare 
whitewashed walls are clad with the pure delicate frescoes of the 
angelic painter — the reflection of his own pure soul. In the 
centre is a little garden kissed by the sunshine ; and up from it is 
seen the deep blue of the Italian sky, speaking of eternal peace. 
It is natural to think that one might cultivate the soul there ; 
might there forget the world, its hate, ambitions, and fierce 
passions. It is a dream. Christ's peace is not a hothouse plant 
blighted by the wind ; it rears its head to meet the storm. 
Christ's ideal is love in the world, though not of the world. It is 
rest for the toil; it is peace for the battle. You must have a 
cloister in your heart ; you must not give your heart to a cloister. 
You can have it — you, in your narrow corner of life ; you, 
amid your distractions and labours ; you, with your fiery trials 
and temptations ; you, with your sorrow and your tears. It can- 
not be got for gold; it cannot be lost through poverty. The 
world cannot give it ; the world cannot take it away. It is not 
given by any manipiilation of outward circumstances ; it rules in 
the heart ; it is an inward state. To be spiritually-minded is life 
and peace.' 

Tf My real feelings about my work and duty have been so 
aroused by recent experiences that I do not estimate these 
external matters as I used to do. And it would be well indeed 
for my peace of mind — I do not see any other real source of peace 
— if I could rise above them altogether, and do all I do simply 
from a sense of duty, from thoughtful and quiet religious impulses, 
making my work as thorough and as good as I can, and leaving 
all the rest to God. That is the only rest, if one could only attain 
to it ; but with an excitable, sensitive nature like mine, so alive 
to the outside world, and with such an excessive craving for 
sympathy, it is very difficult to do this. If I could only learn 
quietness and patience, and not self-trust, which is simply self- 
delusion ; but 1 trust in God. If God will, I will learn this.^ 

' Hugh Black. " Memoir of Principal Tulloch, 202. 

Rest Under the Yoke. 



Ainger (A.), Sermoni Preached in the Temple Church, 39. 

Allon (H.), The Indwelling Christ, 43. 

Brandt (J. L.), Soul Saving, 261. 

Burrows (W. O.), The Mystery of the Cross, 141. 

Chadwlck (W. E.), Christ and Everyday Life, 11. 

Cumock (N.), Comfortable Words, 56. 

Denney (J.), The Way Everlasting, 308. 

Dods (M.), Chria and Man, 38. 

Purst (A.), True Nobility of Cha/racter, 302. 

Holden (J. S.), The Pre-eminent Lord, 180. 
„ „ Life's Flood-Tide, 70. 

Kelman (J.), Redeeming Judgment, 19. 

Knight (H. T.), The Cross, the Font, and the AUwr, 1. 

Little (W. J. K.), Characteristics of the Christian Life, 223. 
„ „ The Hopes of the Passion, 156. 

Maclaren (A.), A Rosary of Christian Graces, 145. 

Neville (W. G.), Sermon*, 9. 

Owen (J. W.), Soot* Australian Sermons, 93. 

Rate (J.), Lea/oesfrom the Tree of Life, 1. 

Russell (A), The Light that Lighteth Every Man, 293. 

Temple (W.), Repton School Sermons, 84. 

British Congregationalist, Jan. 18, 1914 (A. E. Qarvie). 

Christian World, May 20, 1909 (J. D. Jones). 

Christian World Pulpit, x. 309 (H. W. Beecher); xii. 222 (H. W. 
Beecher) ; xl. 396 (H. Ross) ; xli. 156 (T. R. Stevenson) ; Ixv. 305 
(J. H. Jowett) ; Ixix. 81 (A. F. W. Ingram) ; Ixxii. 68 (A. B. Scott) j 
Ixxxii. 43 (A. C. Dixon). 

Church of England Pulpit, Ixi. 414 (H. E. Ryle). 


Rest Under the Yoke. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me ; for I am meek and lowly in 
heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my 
burden is light.— Matt. xi. 29, 30. 

1. Chkist saw the people as poor, toiling, jaded animals labouring 
in the yoke, carrying an almost intolerable load, and in sheer 
compassion and love He cried to them, and said, " Come unto me, 
. . . and I will give you rest." And this " rest " He proposed to 
give, not by relieving them of every yoke and burden, but by an 
exchange of yokes and burdens. He proposed to take away the 
heavy yoke they were then bearing, and to give them His yoke 
instead. " The yoke you are bearing," He said to them, in effect, 
" is too galling ; the burden you are carrying is too heavy ; they 
are more than flesh and blood can bear. Take off your yoke, lay 
aside your burden, and take Mine instead, for My yoke is easy 
and My burden is light." 

2. So Christ also lays a yoke upon us. But what sort of 
yoke ? Justin Martyr, who lived in the first half of the second 
century of the Christian era, tells us that when Jesus was a 
carpenter at Nazareth He used to make " ploughs and yokes for 
oxen." It has been suggested that this ancient Church Father 
derived that curious piece of information from the now lost 
"Gospel according to the Hebrews." If we may accept it as 
correct, — and it comes from very old times, — Jesus was a yoke- 
maker by trade. Then He knew what make of yoke would be 
hard to wear and what easy. The easy yoke would be one that 
would not gall the back of the poor ox on which it was fitted, one, 
perhaps, that was deliberately eased so as not to press on a tender 
place. This is what a considerate artisan would be careful to see 
to ; and we may be sure that in His artisan life Jesus would be 
thoughtful for the welfare of the dumb animals with which He 



had to do. He is considerate as a Master of human souls. There 
are some whose slightest commands sting like insults, and others 
so gracious, genial, and considerate that their very orders are 
accepted by the servants as favours. It is a delight to serve such 
masters. Their yoke is easy. Now Jesus Christ is the most 
considerate of masters. As Milton said, reflecting on the un- 
welcome limitations imposed upon his service by his blindness, 
" Doth God exact day labour, light denied ? " 

^ In using the metaphor of a yoke, Christ was probably em- 
ploying an expression which was already proverbial. In the 
Psalms of Solomon, which are a little earlier than the time of 
Christ, we have : " We are beneath Thy yoke for evermore, and 
beneath the rod of Thy chastening " (vii. 8) ; and " He shall 
possess the peoples of the heathen to serve Him beneath His 
yoke " (xvii. 32). " The yoke " was a common Jewish metaphor 
for discipline or obligation, especially in reference to the service 
of the Law. Thus, in the Apocalypse of Baruch : " For lo ! I see 
many of Thy people who have withdrawn from Thy covenant, and 
cast from them the yoke of Thy Law" (xli. 3). Comp. Lam. 
iii. 27 ; Eeclus. li. 26 ; Acts xv. 10 ; Gal. v. 1 ; Pirqe Ahoth, iii. 8. 
In the Didache (vi. 2) we have " the whole yoke of the Lord," 
which probably means the Law in addition to the Gospel.^ 

Taking the text in its own simplicity we find three things 
in it — 

I. The Yoke — " Take my yoke upon you." 
II. The Lesson — " Learn of me." 
III. The Eest — " Ye shall find rest unto your souls." 


The Yoke. 

" Take my yoke upon you." 

1. When Jesus spoke these words He referred to the yoke He 
Himself wore as Man. That was the yoke of a perfect surrender 
to the will of God, and absolute submission to His throne. To all 
who came to Him He said, " Take my yoke ; the yoke I wear is 
the yoke I impose upon you. As I am submissive to government, 

' A. Plummer. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 273 

so also must you be, if you are to exercise authority." Said the 
Eoman centurion, "I also am a man under authority, having 
under myself soldiers." The condition for the exercise of author- 
ity is ever that of submission to authority. 

At the very beginning of His career Christ had to make His 
choice betv?een self and God. The significance of the temptation 
in the wilderness is surely this, that Christ then deliberately chose 
to walk in God's way, and with His eyes wide open submitted 
Himself to the yoke of God's holy will. That is, indeed, the 
key of our Lord's life. Beus vult was His watchword. He pleased 
not Himself. It was- His meat to do the Father's will, and to 
accomplish His work. He shrank from nothing which the will of 
God brought to Him. When it brought Him to Gethsemane and 
the cross. He said, " The cup which the Father hath given me to 
drink, shall I not drink it ? " And that is the yoke He is com- 
mending here to the people, the yoke He had all His life borne 

2. It is not easy at first to lay aside every other yoke and 
accept the yoke of Christ. The yoke is easy when you have put 
your neck beneath it ; but to bring yourself to that point may 
involve a wrestle with self that almost tears the heart asunder. 
The burden is light when you have forced your reluctant shoulders 
to bear it ; but to do that may be the most difficult thing in all 
the world. There are some things that are easy enough to do, 
once you have made up your mind to do them ; it is making up 
the mind that is the straining, torturing thing. And easy as may 
be the burden that Christ imposes, calmly as the soul's experience 
may go on when once the soul has settled down to the Christian 
conditions, there remains for all of us the battle with stubbornness 
and pride, the coercion of the stiff and resisting will, before we 
pass into the Christian peace. It is a difficult thing to take up 
the easy yoke. It is a heavy task to make ourselves carry the 
light burden. And we need not, therefore, distrust the genuine- 
ness of our Christward desires because we are conscious of so 
much difficulty in driving our rebellious natures to the point of 
Christly submissiveness. 

Tl " How hard it is to be a Christian," cried Browning in the 
opening words of his " Easter Day." To-day some people are trying 

ST. MATT- — 18 


to make it more easy. So they are discreetly silent about the yoke, 
and the cross, and the denying of self, concerning all of which 
Jesus spoke so plainly — while they make the most of the joy, and 
peace, and comfort of the Gospel. The experiment does not appear 
to be very successful. Chivalrous souls would be more drawn by 
the spirit of adventure in response to a trumpet-call to battle than 
to listen to these soothing songs of ease. But if it did succeed, 
what would be the value of a Christianity so one-sided, so enervat- 
ing, so self-indulgent ? In fact, I do not see how you can call it 
Christianity at all. The ship is stranded at the bar of the harbour. 
What is to be done to float her ? You can throw the cargo over- 
board ; but then the very purpose of her voyage will be destroyed. 
It will be better to wait till the flood-tide, and then the ship will 
rise in the deep water and sail out to sea, cargo and all. It is vain 
to float our Gospel ship by throwing cargo overboard. The only 
wise course is to take Christ's full message. To have the yoke 
and the cross as well as the pardon and the peace.^ 

^ Is there no difference when you are on your bicycle between 
bicycling with the wind, when you scarcely feel the wind and go 
smoothly and firmly down the road, and bicycling against the 
wind ? There is all the difference. In one there is peace and 
rest, and swiftness and progress. In the other it is beating up, 
beating up this way and that. You could hardly have a simpler 
and yet a truer illustration of the difference between being borne 
by the Spirit along the course of the will of God and trying to 
beat against the will of God and against the action of the Spirit. 
It is to fling ourselves into the tide of the Spirit — Jesus was driven 
by the Spirit into the wilderness — to yield ourselves to the action 
of the Spirit, and to pass down the will of God before the wind. 
That is peace ; that is rest. And there is no other in the world.^ 

3. Ease comes by practice. When we have fully surrendered 
ourselves to Christ, the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. 
To yield to Christ, to obey His conditions, brings us into harmony 
with the eternal order of things, and makes us realize this ; we 
know, when once we have yielded and obeyed, that we are in 
the spiritual position — if one may employ the phrase — where we 
have all along, although perhaps without understanding it, 
wanted to be ; and they who hear Christ's call and answer to it 
are sure, so soon as their responsive movement towards the calling 
Christ is made, that the soul's questions are settled once for all, 

' W. F. Adeney. = Bishop A. F. W. Ingram. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 275 

the Boul'a requirements met and its instinctive, deep-seated 
capacities filled. It is difficult to force ourselves to the yoke; 
but once it is taken up, the yoke fits, sits lightly, does not fret or 
gall. Christ is found to do no violence to the soul. Eeally to 
accept Christ's conditions is to find ourselves where we want to 
be, set going on the true and satisfying line of life. We give 
ourselves to Christ — and in that surrender we, so to say, receive 
ourselves back again, made great and free. Christ's whole 
method and spirit of life, once we comprehend and accept it, 
comes to us as the one right and natural thing. 

^ We know what a galling bondage an uncongenial service 
may be; we know, on the other hand, what a genuine, an 
unalloyed delight that work is which is absolutely congenial. 
We make most of our children learn some musical instrument or 
other. But to many a boy the hours he spends at the piano are 
sheer drudgery. His practice-hour is Egyptian task-work to him. 
He has no taste or aptitude for music. But watch the man with 
music in his soul at the piano ! Watch a Paderewski play ! 
His hands ripple over the keys in a kind of ecstasy. Playing is 
not task-work to him, it is a rapturous delight. It is congenial 
work. When sons are growing up and the time draws near 
when they must face life for themselves, their parents' great 
anxiety is to discover what their special aptitudes are, for in the 
long-run no man can be really happy or useful in his work unless 
he has some taste and fitness for it. A boy with mechanical 
.'aptitudes is unhappy if put to a literary or intellectual calling. 
A boy with intellectual tastes is wasted if put to mechanical em- 
ployment. If a man is to be happy and useful he must find 
a congenial sphere in life. And the law holds good in higher 
concerns than the choice of a trade or calling. It is valid also in 
the moral and spiritual realm. If a man is to be at rest and 
peace, his soul must be in congenial service. And that is why 
Christ's yoke is easy — the service of God is congenial service.^ 

Tl At the time of the great Civil War in America, the call 
went round the land for men to take up the cause of their 
country's freedom. The men responded, and it was noticed that 
men whose lives had been made a very burden to them by all sorts 
of trifles, men who were always suffering friction and irritation 
because little things went wrong, men who, perhaps, could not 
stand any little trial or trouble without becoming almost unen- 
durable to live with— these were the people who, not groaning and 

1 J. D. Jones. 


making a misery of it, but with a certain exultation of the heart, 
took upon them the great yoke of their country's emancipation, 
and straightway all the little burdens were forgotten, they became 
absolutely trivial and insignificant, and the burden that they bore 
was light.i 

Tf Matthew Henry characteristically says that Christ's yoke is 
" lined with love " ; and St. Bernard cried in his distant day, " 
blessed burden that makes all burdens light 1 blessed yoke that 
bears the bearer up ! " 


The Lesson. 

"Learn of me." 

1. We understand now why Jesus adds, " Learn of me." To 
take His yoke is to be trained in His school. It was a common 
thing for Jewish teachers to issue such invitations, just as to-day 
men issue prospectuses. Here, for instance, is a passage from the 
book of Sirach, written several centuries before the birth of Jesus : 
"Draw near unto me ye unlearned, and lodge in the house of 
instruction. Say wherefore are ye lacking in these things and 
your souls are very thirsty ? I opened my mouth and spake. 
Get her for yourselves without money. Put your neck under the 
yoke, and let your souls receive instruction. She is hard to find. 
Behold with your eyes how that I laboured but a little, and found 
myself much rest." The disciple must sit at his Master's feet, 
and patiently learn of Him, drinking in His teaching, absorbing 
His spirit, gradually growing into the knowledge and character 
that He desires to impart. This is required of the disciple of 
Christ who would learn His secret of rest. 

^ When He says, " Come unto me, and learn of me," we are 
not to think merely that we have to learn something ; but we 
have to know that if we learn it in any other way than from 
Jesus, it is a lost learning.' 

Tl It must have been at one of the early meetings [with 

University students at Edinburgh], when he had for text the 

grand Gospel invitation in the end of the eleventh of Matthew, 

that Mr. Drummond used an illustration which caught their 

' C. Silvester Home. ^ Erskine of Linlathen. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 277 

attention and guided some to the discipleship of Christ. "You 
ask what it is, this coming to Christ. Well, what does Jesus 
Himself tell you here? He says, 'Learn of me.' Now, you are 
all learners. You have come to Edinburgh, some of you from the 
ends of the earth, to learn. And how did you put yourself in the 
way of learning what is here taught ? You went to the University 
office and wrote your name in a book. You matriculated; and 
becoming a University student, you went to get from each 
individual professor what he had to teach. So, with definite 
purpose to learn of Christ, must you come to Him and surrender 
yourself to His teaching and guidance." Sometimes thereafter, 
when a happy worker had to tell of a new addition to the number 
of Christ's disciples, he would pleasantly say that So-and-so had 
" matriculated." ^ 

2. Jesus gives us a perfect pattern of submission. " I am 
meek and lowly in heart." Here alone in the New Testament is 
mention made of the heart of Jesus. He whose yoke we take, 
whose service we enter, whose lesson we learn, is lowly in heart ; 
His love stoops from heaven to earth ; His care is for all who are 
weary with earth's vain service, all who are down-trodden in the 
hurry and rush of life. In Him they shall find what their souls 
need ; not freedom from sickness, sorrow, or death, not deliverance 
from political or social injustice. No; He Himself suffered 
patiently ; He endured these hardships and the agony of loneli- 
ness, desertion, and misunderstanding. He gives rest and re- 
freshment to the soul. "When meekness enters into the heart 
and is enthroned therein as a queen, a revolution takes place in 
that heart. At the gentle swaying of her wand many a Dagon 
crumbles to the ground. Pride must go, false ambition must go, 
resentment must go, jealousy must go ; all these false gods must 
go, and take their baggage with them. And when all those have 
left, the roots of restlessness and worry will be plucked from that 

^ In the meekness and lowliness of Jesus lies great part of His 
mastery over men ; in meekness and lowliness like those of Jesus 
lies our rest. . . . The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is like 
the dust from flowers in bloom. It insinuates and instils. The 
meek man is not without opinions, or a stranger to enterprise. He 
does not live in an untroubled sphere, but he has no desire to see his 
1 G. A. Smith, The Life of Henry Drvmmmd, 300. 


opinion imposed on any. Children find out the meek ; for meekness 
is the childhood of the soul. Haughty men are never young, the 
meek never grow old. Most of us have known some. The young 
are warmed by them, the middle-aged soothed, the old supported. 
Meek hearts live for ever : they are the stock of an immortal tree. 
They inherit lives that live after them, they are spiritual children. 
David says, " God is meek " : Christ says, " I am meek." The Holy 
Spirit's emblem is a dove. The dove comes when you do not stir 
it. Ask gently in silent prayer. He came thus to Christ, and 
will to you when kneeling and broken down. Thou, who art 
Thyself meek and lowly, take pity and create in us Thy meekness.^ 

3. "We must learn humility, because without it there can be no 
true obedience or service. Humility is the keynote of the Divine 
music which Jesus came to make in our world. It is because we 
have lost it that all has become discord. It is the keystone of the 
arch of the Christian virtues. It is because that is wanting that 
the whole structure of the Christian character so often crumbles 
into ruin. We are loth to give meekness that prominent position 
among the Christian virtues which Christ assigned to it. We often 
go so far as to put pride in its place, though pride is probably the 
most hateful of all vices in the sight of God. Without meek- 
ness it is impossible to perform any good and acceptable service to 
our fellow-men, for pride vitiates and stultifies all we do ; and it 
is impossible to love and serve God, for pride banishes us from Him, 
since it is written : " As for the proud man, he beholdeth him 
afar off." True humility, therefore, must be ours if we would 
obtain rest unto our souls. 

^ The man that carries his head high knocks it against a great 
many lintels which he who stoops escapes. The lightning strikes 
the oak, not the grass. If you wish to be restless and irritated 
and irritable all your days, and to provide yourself with some- 
thing that will always keep you uncomfortable, assert yourself, 
and be on the look-out for slights, and think yourself better than 
people estimate you, and be the opposite of meek and humble, 
and you will find trouble enough.^ 

1 R. W. Barbour, Thoughts, 105, 112. 

" A. Maclaren, A Eosary of Chrislian Graces, 154. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 279 


The Ekst. 

" Ye shall find rest unto your souls." 

1. When we respond to Christ's invitation and come to Him, 
we enter into the rest of faith. The very act of trust brings 
tranquillity, even when the person or thing trusted in is human 
or creatural, and therefore uncertain. For, to roll the responsi- 
bility from myself, as it were, upon another, brings repose, and 
they who lean upon Christ's strong arm do not need to fear, 
though their own arm be very weak. The rest of faith, when we 
cease from having to take care of ourselves, when we can cast all 
the gnawing cares and anxieties that perturb us upon Him, when 
we can say, " Thou dost undertake for me, and I leave myself in 
Thy hands," is tranquillity deeper and more real than any 
other that the heart of man can conceive. "Thou wilt keep 
him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he 
trusteth in thee." Cast yourself upon Christ, and live in that 
atmosphere of calm confidence; and though the surface may 
be tossed by many a storm, the depths will be motionless and 
quiet, and there will be " peace, subsisting at the heart of endless 

Ij Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his concep- 
tion of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among 
the far-off mountains. The second threw on his canvas a thunder- 
ing waterfall, with a fragile birch-tree bending over the foam ; at 
the fork of a branch, almost wet with the cataract's spray, a robin 
sat on its nest. The first was only Stagnation; the last was 
Eest. For in Eest there are always two elements — tranquillity 
and energy ; silence and turbulence ; creation and destruction ; 
fearlessness and fearfulness. This it was in Christ.^ 

2. This was Christ's own rest. In reading the story of Christ's 
life you are struck by that wonderful self-possession, that quiet 
dignity of soul which never forsook Him. There is never any- 
thing approaching to the agitation which betokens smaller minds. 
There is that large equanimity which never forsakes Him even in 

' Henry Drummond. 


the hour of profoundest distress. Look at Him during the quiet 
years in the home. Though conscious of the high calling which 
awaited Him He never showed any impatience during those thirty 
years. Though He knew He should be about His Father's 
business, He first found it in the little home in which He 
lived. Watch Him, too, when He moves out into the busy 
activities of His ministering life; you still find the same quiet 
self-possession and restfulness of soul. He stands absolutely 
unmoved amongst those temptations and seductions which were 
set before Him. So, when the crowd thronged round Him while 
on His way to the healing of Jairus's daughter, you see His quiet- 
ness, self-possession, and restfulness of spirit. Even when you 
come to the final scenes of the agony, there is the same equanimity, 
for it is equanimity which can detach self from the urgency and 
the duties of the moment. When you turn to the pages of 
the evangelists, what is uppermost in the mind surely is this, 
the thought of the quietness, the dignity, the unrivalled tran- 
quillity, the self-possession, the restfulness of soul which never 
deserts their Lord and Master. Throughout all. He possessed that 
restfulness of soul of which He speaks here. And this is the 
secret which the world has so often longed for. All men are 
disposed to say at a later stage of their life, " Give us what you 
will, I do not ask now for joy or happiness ; give me the capacity 
for sweet contentment, give me quietude of soul, give me the 
power to be at rest." 

^ We can no more leave the path of duty without danger of 
ruin than a planet could without danger break away from the 
path of its orbit. The moral law is as binding and beneficent in 
its action, if duly obeyed, as the physical law. The yoke is a 
badge, not of servitude, but of liberty ; duty and law are not stern 
and forbidding, but gentle and friendly ; they are but two names 
for the fostering care of God over all His works. Wordsworth, 
who with clearer insight than all others caught a glimpse of the 
face of God beneath the veil of Nature, thus addresses Duty : 

Stern Lawgiver! Yet thou dost wear 
The Godhead's most benignant grace; 
Nor know we anything so fair 
As is the smile upon thy face: 
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds 
And fragrance in thy footing treads; 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 281 

Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong; 
And the most ancient heavens, through thee, are fresh and 

To humbler functions, awful Power 

I call thee: I myself commend 

Unto thy guidance from this hour ; 

Oh, let my weakness have an end! 

Give unto me, made lowly wise, 

The spirit of self-sacrifice; 

The confidence of reason give; 

And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live.^ 

3. This strange gift of rest is at once immediate and pro- 
gressive. " I will give you .rest," that is, " on your coming to 
Me " ; and " ye shall find rest," that is, " on your continuance 
with Me." The experiment of faith is to issue in an experience 
of rest which pervades every part of life until the whole is under 
its dominion, and until the peace of God reigns unhindered in 
the throne-room of the heart. As the tide setting in from the 
deep rises steadily until every dry inlet and creek along the 
coast-line is filled with the ocean's fulness, so is the experience 
of Christ's rest to increase and enlarge in the lives of His people. 
No man has learned all there is of a language or its literature 
when he has but mastered the alphabet. And no man finds all 
that the rest of Christ is who is content with a mere casual 
acquaintance with the Son of God. For the relationship which 
is adjusted on our first coming to Him must be strengthened on 
our side by a constant increase of the area of surrender, answer- 
ing to increasing light. And it is in this ever-enlarging obedience 
that rest is increasingly found. 

^ When our surrender is made, the pain of our sacrifice is 
great in proportion to our former selfishness. It is also harder 
to bear, or more protracted when there is any looking back. 
When we have once renounced our self-will and deliberately 
chosen the WUl of God, if we look back we not only expose our- 
selves to grievous risk, but also we make everything so much 
harder to accomplish. If we would be brave in the surrender of 
the will, we must set our faces in the way of the higher life, con- 
template the beauty of the graces proposed to us, and deny the 
former gratifications and appeals of self-love. We shall indeed 

' A. M. Mackay. 


prove that the surrender of our will and the acceptance of God's 
Will is no pleasing action of the soul ; but rather that, again and 
again, as grace increases so love will be tested. And yet, so 
perfect is the response of Divine love, that habitual surrender of 
the will to God leads to great peace in the fact that we have no 
will but His. Thus St. Catherine of Siena was enabled to make 
so complete a surrender of her own will that our Lord gave her 
His Will. She had made her communion with such devotion 
that she was led to pray "that He would take away from her 
all comforts and delights of the world that she might take pleasure 
in none other thing, but only in Him." If we are moved by a like 
holy desire, we should persevere in the constant surrender of the 
will; nor let us be discouraged though we have to renew our 
efforts at ever-increasing cost. New and higher ways of self- 
surrender will appear, new opportunities of sacrifice will be pre- 
sented, greater and more interior sufferings will test us, whether 
our love is equal to really great things ; whether we will aspire to 
the heroism of the Saints in the effort after perfection. " Be ye 
perfect " is the Divine precept which echoes in the soul inflamed 
by love.^ 

4. When we give ourselves up to the Father as the Son gave 
Himself, we shall find not only that our yoke is easy and our 
burden light, but that they communicate ease and lightness ; not 
only will they not make us weary, but they will give us rest from 
all other weariness. Let us not waste a moment in asking how 
this can be ; the only way to know that is to take the yoke upon us. 
That rest is a secret for every heart to know, for nev^r a tongue 
to tell. Only by having it can we know it. If it seem impossible 
to take the yoke upon us, let us attempt the impossible, let us lay 
hold of the yoke, and bow our heads, and try to get our necks 
under it. If we give our Father the opportunity. He will help 
and not fail us. He is helping us every moment, when least we 
think we need His help : when most we think we do, then may 
we most boldly, as most earnestly we must, cry for it. What or 
how much His creatures can do or bear God alone understands ; 
but when it seems most impossible to do or bear, we must be 
most confident that He will neither demand too much nor fail 
with the vital Creator-help. That help will be there when wanted 
— that is, the moment it can be help. To be able beforehand to 
imagine ourselves doing or bearing we have neither claim nor need. 
1 Jesse Brett, Humility, 14. 

ST. MATTHEW xi. 29, 30 283 

^ They tell me that on a farm the yoke means service. 
Cattle are yoked to serve, and to serve better, and to serve more 
easily. This is a surrender for service, not for idleness. In 
military usage surrender often means being kept in enforced idle- 
ness and under close guard. But this is not like that. It is all 
upon a much higher plane. Jesus has every man's life planned. 
It always awes me to recall that simple tremendous fact. With 
loving, strong thoughtfulness He has thought into each of our 
lives, and planned it out, in whole, and in detail. He comes to a 
man and says, " I know you. I have been thinking about you." 
Then very softly — "I — love — you. I need you, for a plan of 
Mine. Please let Me have the control of your life and all your 
power, for My plan." It is a surrender for service. It is yoked 
service. There are two bows or loops to a yoke. A yoke in 
action has both sides occupied, and as surely as I bow down my 
head and slip into the bow on one side — I know there is Somebody 
else on the other side. It is yoked living now, yoked fellowship, 
yoked service. It is not working for God now. It is working 
with Him. Jesus never sends anybody ahead alone. He treads 
down the pathway through every thicket, pushes aside the thorn 
bushes, and clears the way, and then says with that taking way 
of His, " Come along with Me. Let us go together, you and I. 
Yoke up with Me. Let us pull together." And if we will pull 
steadily along, content to be by His side, and to be hearing His 
quiet voice, and always to keep His pace, step by step with Him, 
without regard to seeing results, all will be well, and by and by 
the best results and the largest will be found to have come.^ 
' S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Service, 79. 

My Chuech. 



Abbott (L.), Signs of Promise, 157. 

Adeney (W. F.), in Men of the New Testament, 109. 

Book (W. H.), The Columbus Tabernacle Sermons, 142. 

Brown (C. E.), The Young Man's Affairs, 139. 

Biirrell (D. J.), The Spirit of the Age, 296. 

Clow (W. M.), The Secret of the Lord, 42. 

Dewburst (F. E.), The Investment of Truth, 191. 

Goulburn (E. M.), The Holy Catholic Church, 1. 

Gray (W. H.), Old Creeds and New Beliefs, 232. 

Greenhough (J. G.), The Cross in Modern Life, 105. 

Holland (H. S.), Creed and Character, 37. 

Horton (E. F.), The Teaching of Jesus, 125. 

Jones (J. C), Studies in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 255. 

Neville (W. G.), Sermons, 109. 

Newman (J. H.), Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 263. 

Nicoll (W. E.), The Lamp of Sacrifice, 113. 

Owen (J. W.), Some Australian Sermons, 167. 

Peabody (F. G.), Mornings in the College Chapel, ii. 33. 

Sanderson (T.), Unfulfilled Designs, 141. 

Shepherd (A.), Bible Studies in Living Subjects, 219. 

Stanley (A. P.), Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age, 76. 

British Congregationalist, March 23, 1911 (W. B. Selbie) ; Sept. 21, 1911 

(J. Warschauer). 
Christian World Pulpit, xxxiv. 207 (C. Garrett); Iviii. 243 (J. A. 

Chv/rchman's Pulpit : St. Peter, St. James, xv. 36 (C. Hardwiok). 
Contemporary Review, xcvii. (1910) 165 (G. Whitelock). 
Expositor, 2nd Ser., vii. 311 (J. A. Beet). 
Homiletic Review, New Ser., xliv. 239 (F. E. Hiel). 


My Church. 

And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will 
build my church ; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.— 
Matt. xvi. l8. 

Cheist had come very nearly to the close of His Galilean ministry. 
He had been preaching for about a year, and the twelve disciples 
had been accompanying Him, listening to His preaching, doing a 
little preaching themselves, and gradually learning the truth which 
He had come to proclaim. He had taken them apart by them- 
selves for more close individual religious instruction. He pursued 
the Socratic method. He asked them to what conclusions they 
had come as the result of what they had seen and heard during 
this year's companionship with Him. He asked, " Who do men 
say that I am?" And the Apostles reported various answers: 
" Some say John the Baptist ; some, Elijah ; and others, Jeremiah, 
or one of the prophets." Then He said unto them, " But who say 
ye that I am?" And Peter, who was never slow to speak, 
answered, perhaps as spokesman for the rest, "Thou art the 
Christ, the Son of the living God." To this Christ replied: 
"Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath 
not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 
And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock 
I will build my church ; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail 
against it." 

The whole passage from which these words are taken has 
been a battlefield for centuries between two irreconcilable con- 
ceptions of Christianity. Our Lord had put a question to His 
disciples, and it was no mere casual inquiry suggested by some 
chance turn in the conversation. It was really an investigation 
into the foundation of that world-wide kingdom He had come to 



The Eock Foundation of the Chuech. 

"Thou art Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my 

1. The name of Peter is not bestowed here but interpreted. 
Christ does not say, " Thou shalt be," but " Thou art " : and so 
presupposes the former conferring of the name. Unquestionably, 
the Apostle is the rock on which the Church is built. The efforts 
to avoid that conclusion would never have been heard of, but for 
the Koman Catholic controversy ; but they are as unnecessary as 
unsuccessful. Is it credible that in the course of an address 
which is wholly occupied with conferring prerogatives on the 
Apostle a clause should come in which is concerned about an 
altogether different subject from the " thou " of the preceding and 
the " thee " of the following clauses, and which yet should take 
the very name of the Apostle, slightly modified, for that other 
subject ? We do not interpret other books in that fashion. But 
it was not the " flesh and blood " Peter, but Peter as the recipient 
and faithful utterer of the Divine inspiration in his confession, 
who received these privileges. Therefore they are not his 
exclusive property, but belong to his faith, which grasped and 
confessed the Divine-human Lord; and wherever that faith is, 
there are these gifts, which are its results. They are the 
" natural " consequences of the true faith in Christ in that higher 
region where the supernatural is the natural. Peter's grasp of 
Christ's nature wrought upon his character, as pressure does upon 
sand, and solidified his shifting impetuosity into rocklike firmness. 
So the same faith will tend to do in any man. It made him the 
chief instrument in the establishment of the Early Church. On 
souls steadied and made solid by like faith, and only on such, can 
Christ build His Church. 

What Christ says, then, is not, " On you and your successors 
in ecclesiastical of&ce I will build My Church " ; not, " On what 
you have said I will build My Church " ; but, " On you as a man 
transformed by the power of an indwelling Christ, on you as the 
type of a long line of humanity growing broader through the 
sweep and range of history, humanity transformed and changed 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 289 

by the indwelling of My own Messianic life, I will build My 
Church." This is the interpretation of the text afforded by its 
setting. This is also Peter's own interpretation. " Wherefore 
laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, 
and evU speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of 
the word, that ye may grow thereby : if so be ye have tasted that 
the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, 
disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye 
also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priest- 
hood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus 

^ The change of person " on this rock," instead of " upon thee," 
is the natural result of the sudden transition from a direct to a 
metaphorical address ; and is in exact accordance with our Lord's 
manner on other occasions. He said not " Destroy Me " or " the 
temple of My body," but "destroy this temple" (John ii. 19). 
The change of gender from Fetros to petra is the natural result of 
the change from a proper name to the work from which the 
proper name is derived. The French language alone, of all those 
into which the original has been translated, has been able entirely 
to preserve their identity. The Greek Fetros, which for the sake 
of the masculine termination was necessarily used to express the 
name itself, was yet so rarely used in any other sense than a 
" stone " that the exigency of the language required an immediate 
return to the word petra, which, as in Greek generally, so also in the 
New Testament, is the almost invariable appellation of a " rock." 
To speak of any confession or form of words, however sacred, as a 
foundation or rock, would be completely at variance with the 
living representation of the New Testament. It is not any 
doctrine concerning Christ, but Christ Himself, that is spoken of 
as being in the highest and strictest sense the foundation of the 
Church (1 Cor. iii. 11), and so whenever the same figure is used to 
express the lower and earthly instruments of the establishment of 
God's Kingdom, it is not any teaching or system that is meant, but 
living human persons. Thus the Apostles are all of them called 
"foundations" of the Church in Eph. ii. 20; Eev. xxi. 14; and, 
by a nearly similar metaphor, Peter, James, and John are called 
" pillars " (Gal. ii. 9), the faithful Christian a " pillar in the temple of 
God" (Eev. iii. 12), and Timotheus, by a union of both metaphors, 
" the pillar and ground " of the " truth in the house of God." 1 

Tl Stier is suggestive upon this point : " The man is Simon 
' A. P. Stanley, Sermons and Essays on the Apostolic Age, 113. 
ST. MATT. — 19 


Bar-jona the sinner : not upon him, therefore, is it to be built ; 
but upon this Peter such as grace makes him ; upon him because, 
and in as far as, he certainly corresponds to this name more than 
the others. Still for this very reason the co-ordinate stones and 
pillars are by no means excluded, and even the primacy of Peter 
rests at bottom only upon this, that he is called to begin the 
preaching of the Word as first among equals." So wonderfully 
does the Lord vouchsafe to build up the eternal fabritJ of the 
Church out of human stones. Himself indeed the chief corner- 
stone, and the twelve Apostles the twelve foundations, St. Peter 
the great basal stone of the fabric, while thereon is built up, as 
that very St. Peter himself testifies, out of living stones, a spiritual 

2. Jesus builds His Church upon average human nature. 
Who was this man of whom Jesus said that he was a rock ? He 
was the most unstable and shifting of the disciples, as little like a 
rock as a man could be. Jesus must have known this ; Peter must 
have known it ; and the fishermen with Peter must have known 
it also. He was quick to act and quick to reject. He was what 
the modern world calls a " quitter," a man who could not stand 
the strain of disapproval or suspicion ; a man who was more like 
sand than rock. Yet Jesus takes him just as he is, believes in 
him when he does not believe in himself, sees his underlying 
qualities of strength and leadership, and converts him into the 
rock which He would have him be. It was like the process of 
nature which tosses the sand up on the shore and then beats upon 
it and hardens it until it becomes converted into stone ; and we 
call it, by what seems a contradiction in terms, sandstone. So 
Jesus takes this unstable character and says to it : " Thou shalt 
be a rock," and by the hard friction and compression of experience 
Peter becomes that which Jesus saw that he could be. 

% Mr. Bernard Shaw (who asks not for a new kind of 
philosophy but for a new kind of man) cannot understand that 
the thing which is valuable and lovable in our eyes is man — the 
old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, failing, sensual, respect- 
able man. And the things that have been founded on this 
creature immortally remain ; the things that have been founded 
on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dying civiliza- 
tions which alone have given them birth. When Christ at a 
symbolic moment was establishing His great society. He chose for 
' A. Ritohie, Spiritual Studies in St. Matthew's Gospel, ii. 33. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 291 

its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, 
but a shuffler, a snob, a coward — in a word, a man. And upon 
this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have 
not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have 
failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they 
were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one 
thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, 
and for that reason it is indestructible. Por no chain is stronger 
than its weakest link.^ 

^ We are all familiar with the expression " a chip of the old 
block." The quality of the chip bespeaks a block of like quality. 
The chip is a pattern or sample of the block. In the same way 
the evidently durable jpetra calls up the image of a petros of like 
quality, as that which would afford an unrivalled foundation upon 
which to build. Thus when our Lord to His first utterance, " I 
also say unto thee, that thou art Petros," adds the words, " and 
upon this petra I will build my church," it is like the farmer 
taking up the sample, and declaring, " With this corn will I sow 
my field," or the woman viewing the pattern, and saying, " Of this 
stuff will I have a dress." ^ 

3. Although the meH;aphor here regards Jesus, not as the 
foundation, but as the Founder of the Church, yet in a real sense 
He is the Church's "one foundation," and Scripture generally 
speaks of Him as such. If you would seek a sufficient foundation 
for the Church, it can be found only in One who can give support 
and maintenance to all that the Church is ; only in One who can 
uphold from the first and through the ages all that enters into 
the parts and thought and activities of the Church ; only in One 
who Himself contains within Himself the substance which, when 
worked out by the power of living spirit, will become the manifold 
forms of the Church's contents — her faitli, her sacraments, her 
worship, her activities, her many kinds and forms of grace and 
goodness. And He only is such a One who said " Upon this rock 
I will build my church." And so St. Paul says, " Other foundation 
can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 

^ Our Lord proclaimed Himself the Pounder of a world-wide 
and imperishable Society. He did not propose to act powerfully 
upon the convictions and the characters of individual men, and 
then to leave to them, when they believed and felt alike, the 

' G. K. Chesterton, Berelics, 66. 

» F. G. Cholmondeley, in The Expositor, 2nd Ser,, viii. 76. 


liberty of voluntarily forming themselves into an association, with 
a view to reciprocal sympathy and united action. From the first, 
the formation of a society was not less an essential feature of 
Christ's plan than was His redemptive action upon single souls. 
The society was not to be a school of thinkers, nor a self -associated 
company of enterprising fellow- workers ; it was to be a Kingdom, 
the Kingdom of Heaven, or, as it is also called, the Kingdom of 


The Stkuctuee Built upon the Eock. 

" I will build my church." 

1. The word "church" was neither new nor doubtful in 
meaning to Jesus' disciples. It was the rendering they found in 
that Greek Bible they had in their hands for one of the most 
sacred and significant terms of the Old Testament. The Greek 
word ecclesia is the translation of the Hebrew expression for " the 
congregation of the Lord." Peter and his fellow-disciples could 
not fail to realize that Jesus was forming the little band who had 
companied with Him into a definite and organized religious 
community. They were no longer a company of men who formed 
the school of a Master. They were the church, the society, the 
congregation of Christ. That society was seen in those twelve 
men who looked up with wondering eyes and flushed faces to Him 
whom they had confessed. It was seen again in the Upper Eoom 
at the supper table. It was seen again in Jerusalem as, together 
with the women, they waited on God in prayer, and the number 
of the names was about an hundred and twenty. It was seen 
again when the believers met in the first Council at Jerusalem, 
and the apostles and elders came together to consider. It was 
seen also whenever men and women met for prayer and for service 
to Christ. 

H Euskin has pointed out how the New Testament use of the 
word "church" emphasizes this simple and unecclesiastical 
meaning of the term. It can be seen to-day where two or three 
are gathered together in His name. To be gathered together in 
His name means for some purpose He has ordained which can be 

■^ H. P. Liddon, TJie Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 101. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 293 

fulfilled through His Spirit, under a sense of His presence. " UU 
Christus, iU ecclesia." Where Christ is, there is the Church. It 
is the organ through which the great truths He preached, those 
of God, of the meaning and worth of His words and life and 
passion and redemption, are declared. It is the witness to His 
resurrection, the evangelist of His message, the pillar and ground 
of His truth, the fold of His flock. Like every other society it 
must have its officers and its ceremonies. Like every other society 
it must have its functions and its services. These have been 
simply and fully described as " the word, sacraments, and prayer." 
Whatever more men shall plead they may and should add to the 
form and fashion of the Church of Christ nothing more than this 
was understood by the men of Christ's own time.^ 

2. The Church, or assembly of God's people, is represented as 
a house ; not a temple so much as a beleaguered fortress, accord- 
ing to the figure frequently used by the prophets immediately 
before the Captivity, and naturally suggested by the actual position 
of the palace and Temple of Jerusalem on their impregnable hills. 
But this assembly or congregation, which up to this time had 
been understood only of the Jewish people, is here described as 
being built afresh ; " built," according to the significant meaning 
of that word, which, both in the Old and in the New Testament, 
always involves the idea of progress, creation, expansion, by Him 
who here, as so often elsewhere, appropriates to Himself what had 
up to that time been regarded as the incommunicable attribute of 
the Lord of Hosts. It is of this fortress, this " spiritual house," 
to use the phrase in his own Epistle (1 Pet. ii. 5), that Peter is to 
be the foundation-rock. It was no longer to be reared on the 
literal rock of Zion, but on a living man, and that man not the 
high priest of Jerusalem but a despised fisherman of Galilee. 
He who had stepped forward with his great confession in this 
crisis had shown that he was indeed well fitted to become the 
stay and support of a congregation no less holy than that which 
had been with Moses in the wilderness, or with Solomon in the 

Tf We are to be careful as to where we build, and with what 

we build. The Eddystone Lighthouse was once demolished 

because it did not properly rest on the rock ; and if we are not 

built on Christ — His doctrine, merit, fellowship, promise — we must 

' "W. M. Glow, The Secret of the lord, 46. 


be confounded. Let me be sure that I am morticed into the 
impregnable Rock ! Careful with what we build ! Eddystone 
Lighthouse perished once because it was built of wrong material 
— constructed of wood, it was burnt. How much often enters 
into the Christian creed that is not jewel or gold — fancies, specu- 
lations, notions, utterly worthless ! How much often enters into the 
Christian life that is superficial, freakish, trivial, inferior, and in- 
harmonious ! Strange combinations of the true and the false, the 
precious and the paltry, the beautiful and the vulgar, the essential 
and the absurd ! Lord, grant me grace to build on the granite — 
to build on Thee."- 

3. Christ describes the Church lovingly as " My church." If 
we read the Gospels carefully we shall see with what strictness of 
application our Lord used the word " My." He never said, " My 
house," " My lands," " My books," " My wife," " My child." He 
said, " My Father," " My friends," " My disciples." When we 
think of it we shall see that His true possessions were His Father 
and His Church—" My Father," " My Church." 

The Church is the company, now indeed quite innumerable, 
of disciple-like souls who are for ever and ever learning of Him, 
some of them, the greater number, beholding His face, and serving 
Him day and night in His temple ; the rest not seeing Him yet, 
but rejoicing in Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 
In a word, the Church is the faithful souls of every place and name 
known and unknown to whom His name is unutterably dear and 
His words are more precious than fine gold, who love Him with a 
love that is more than human, who trust Him with a trust that is 
stronger than life or death, whose eager desire is to obey Him and 
serve Him, and whose fervent prayer for ever and ever is to get 
His truth made known. His salvation proved, and His name lifted 
above every name, until at the name of Jesus every knee shall 
bow. Upon all these, wherever they are, the Saviour looks down 
as with the joy of one who looks upon a noble possession, and He 
says, " They are My Church ; and there is no other." 

\\ It is not our Church ; it is Christ's Church, first and last 
and always. We cannot do in it what we please: we must do 
what Christ pleases. He is its Builder. We may use the term 
" Builder " of Him very much as we use it of an architect to-day. 
Jesus Christ is the Architect of the Christian Church, and we are 

» W, L. Watkinson. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 295 

all builders under Him — masons, carpenters, hodmen — and the 
business of these people, from the foreman of the works right 
downward, is to carry out the Architect's plan.^ 

^ A foundation must be hidden and out of sight unto all those 
that outwardly look upon the house. They cannot perceive it, 
though every part of the house doth rest upon it. And this hath 
occasioned many mistakes in the world. An unwise man coming 
to a great house, seeing the antics [wall decorations] and pictures 
[figures ? pillars ?] stand crouching under the windows and sides of 
the house, may haply think that they bear up the weight of the 
house, when indeed they are for the most part pargeted [painted] 
posts. They bear not the house : the house bears them. By their 
bowing and outward appearance, the man thinks the burden is on 
them, and supposes it would be an easy thing, at any time, by taking 
them away, to demolish the house itself. But when he sets him- 
self to work, he finds these things of no value. There is a founda- 
tion in the bottom, which bears up the whole, that he thought not 
of. Men looking upon the Church do find that it is a fair fabric 
indeed, but cannot imagine how it should stand. A few supporters 
it seemeth to have in the world, like crouching antics [wall decora- 
tions] under the windows, that make some show of under-propping 
it ; here you have a magistrate, there an army or so. Think the 
men of the world, " Can we but remove these people, the whole 
would quickly topple to the ground." Yea, so foolish have I been 
myself, and so void of understanding before the Lord, as to take a 
view of some goodly appearing props of this building and to think. 
How shall the house be preserved if these be removed — when lo ! 
suddenly some have been manifested to be held up by the house, and 
not to hold it up. I say then, Christ, as the foundation of this 
house, is hidden to the men of this world ; they see it not, they 
believe it not. There is nothing more remote from their appre- 
hension than that Christ should be at the bottom of them and 
their ways, whom they so much despise." 


The Security of the Steuctuke. 

"The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." 

1. The figure of the gates is one of the oldest and most familiar 
in Eastern life. At the gate of every city its elders sat in judg- 
^ "W. B. Selbie, in TJie British CongregatimaHit, March 23, 1911. 
' John Owen. 


ment and in council, as Lot sat in the gates of Sodom. From the 
gates of the city there issued forth its armies of conquest. " The 
gates of Hades " is a picturesque and Oriental metaphor for the 
counsel and craft and force of evil. By the figure Jesus con- 
jured up to the imagination of His disciples that underworld of 
spiritual evil from which there issued forth the powers of darkness. 
From these gates of hell Jesus saw down the centuries of the 
history of His Church, in which all the wisdom of this world, its 
cunning and cruelty and foul passion, would assail His society of 
believing men. He foresaw the long struggle when 

Zion in her anguish 
With Babylon must cope. 

He foresaw those eras when the battle would seem to go against 
His Church. He saw His disciples before the Council. He saw 
His martyr saints witnessing with their lives when paganism 
sprung on them like a savage beast roused from its lair. He saw 
the subtler powers of darkness sapping the faith, corrupting the 
purities, and leavening the simplicities, of His people's worship, 
and service. He saw the enemy sowing his tares among the 
wheat. But He saw His Church, in the power of its moral and 
spiritual energy, emerging from every conflict with a greater victory. 
He saw of the travail of His soul and was satisfied. 

2. History has justified this promise. The gates of Hades have 
not prevailed. The Christian Church, on whose foundation in 
Himself He began to build with, as it were, but a single stone in 
His hand, has, beyond all other positive institutions, defied and 
surmounted destruction. Great changes have taken place since 
Jesus ventured the promise of this portion of Scripture to a poor 
fisherman, and threw into the air that challenge against fate. 
Numerous old customs have decayed. Whole systems of religion 
and philosophy have passed away. Famous cities have crumbled 
in the dust, and wild beasts have roamed, and birds of prey have 
screamed over their ruins. Eaces of men have been dispersed, or 
are even now in their last remnants thinly melting into the grave 
which this earth has for nations as well as for individuals. Yea, 
the very shores of the seas have begun to shift their places, and 
the everlasting hills have bowed their heads since Jesus spoke to 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 297 

Peter. But the gates of hell have not prevailed against His 
Church. Not only has it survived unhurt, as the promise implies, 
but it has flourished and increased ; and under its various names, 
and with open doors, it still invites the sons of men at once to the 
shelter of its walls and through the opening of its aisles into paths 
of endless advancement. 

^ In the middle of the last century all literary and philo- 
sophical people in this country were writing down the Church, 
saying its last days were come: when bishops like Butler were 
apologizing for Christianity, and historians like David Hume were 
predicting that by the end of the century it would be among the 
dead religions ; it was just at that time that the great Evangelical 
revival of Wesley and Whitefield commenced, which carried a 
new wave, or rather a new iire, of religious fervour into every 
corner of the land. Again, towards the close of the century, when 
the French Encyclopasdists, led by Voltaire, were saying that Jesus 
the Nazarene had at last been blotted out, and that Christian 
temples would be changed into halls of science — it was at that 
time that William Carey went out to India, and the great foreign 
missionary enterprise was renewed, if not commenced, which has 
carried the sign of the cross, and the light of it, into the darkest 
parts of the world. And the Church has always been surprising 
its enemies in that way by its wonderful resurrections, just as 
Jewish rulers were surprised when they found that the name of 
Jesus which they had crucified, and buried, and got rid of, was 
working greater miracles than ever."- 

^ We understand ourselves to be risking no new assertion, 
but simply reporting what is already the conviction of the 
greatest of our age, when we say, — that cheerfully recognizing, 
gratefully appropriating whatever Voltaire has proved, or any 
other man has proved, or shall prove, the Christian Eeligion, once 
here, cannot again pass away; that in one or the other form, it 
will endure through all time ; that as in Scripture, so also in the 
heart of man, is written, "the Gates of Hell shall not prevail 
against it." Were the memory of this Faith never so obscured, 
as, indeed, in all times, the coarse passions and perceptions of 
the world do all but obliterate it in the hearts of most: yet 
in every pure soul, in every Poet and Wise Man, it finds 
a new Missionary, a new Martyr, till the great volume of 
Universal History is finally closed, and man's destinies are fulfilled 
in this earth.2 

' J. G. Greenhougli, The Cross in Modem Life, 116. 
' Carlyle, Miscellanies, ii. 173 (Essay on Toltaire). 


3. The greatest hindrance to the victory of this society of 
Christ, and the supreme sorrow of all loyal hearts within it, has 
heen the low standard of its Christian character, and the apostasy 
of those traitor hearts who have sometimes fouiid a place among 
its leaders. The root of this low level of life, and the source of 
this treachery, has always been the failure to maintain the test 
of a personal experience. Wherever Christian teachers sanction 
membership on the ground of a proper age, a sufficient knowledge, 
a Christian training, or a due regard for religious observances, 
unworthy lives and heedless practices abound. So long as the 
winnowing fan of persecution blew away the chaff there was little 
but wheat in the garner of God and the society of Christ. When 
the cleansing fires of a searching poverty, a costly service, and an 
open outcastness, purged believers' hearts of pride and ambition, 
Christ's society was the ideal of a godly chivalry. But when the 
Church grew rich and powerful, and when title and rank became 
appanages of its leaders, and office in it became a coveted dis- 
tinction, then this solemn test of a personal touch with God was 
evaded. Christ's society was no longer a community and brother- 
hood of pure and lowly men. Whatever rank, or place, or 
authority any man has held in any church in Christendom, it is 
a simple certainty that Christ has not welcomed him in at all, if 
he has had no revelation from God. 

^ Thoreau spoke of men whose pretence to be Christian was 
ridiculous, for they had no genius for it. Matthew Arnold said of 
John Wesley that he had " a genius for godliness." But nothing 
can be more misleading than to use such terms as these. They 
are a distinct denial of Christ's great truth that God's revelation 
of grace is made not to the wise and prudent, but to babes. There 
have been men of a real genius for morality, but there is no such 
thing as a genius for religion. The most reckless and godless 
wretch, whose name has been a synonym for coarse and blatant 
atheism, about whom Thoreau and Matthew Arnold would say 
that he had a genius for devilry, has become a splendid and 
glorious saint. Wherever there is a soul there is a genius for 
godliness. But that soul must have come nakedly and openly 
under the power of God. Then and not till then does it pass into 
Christ's society.^ 

^ If Augustin guessed from this upheaval of his whole frame 
1 W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 49. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. i8 299 

how close at hand was the heavenly visitation, all he felt at the 
moment was a great need to weep, and he wanted solitude to weep 
freely. He went down into the garden. Alypius, feeling uneasy, 
followed at a distance, and in silence sat down beside him on the 
bench where he had paused. Augustin did not even notice that 
his friend was there. His agony of spirit began again. All his 
faults, all his old stains came once more to his mind, and he grew 
furious against his cowardly feebleness as he felt how much he 
still clung to them. Oh, to tear himself free from all these 
miseries — to finish with them once for all! . . . Suddenly he 
sprang up. It was as if a gust of the tempest had struck him. 
He rushed to the end of the garden, flung himself on his knees 
under a fig-tree, and with his forehead pressed against the earth 
he burst into tears. Even as the olive-tree at Jerusalem which 
sheltered the last watch of the Divine Master, the fig-tree of 
Milan saw fall upon its roots a sweat of blood. Augustin, 
breathless in the victorious embrace of Grace, panted : " How long, 
how long ? To-morrow and to-morrow ? Why not now ? Why 
not this hour make an end of my vileness ? " 

Now, at this very moment a child's voice from the neighbour- 
ing house began repeating in a kind of chant : " Take and read, 
take and read." Augustin shuddered. What was this refrain ? 
Was it a nursery-rhyme that the little children of the countryside 
used to sing ? He could not recollect it ; he had never heard it 
before. Immediately, as upon a Divine command, he rose to his 
feet and ran back to the place where Alypius was sitting, for he 
had left St. Paul's Epistles lying there. He opened the book, and 
the passage on which his eyes first fell was this : " Put ye on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil 
the lusts thereof." The flesh ! The sacred text aimed at him 
directly— at him, Augustin, still so full of lust ! This command 
was the answer from on high. 

He put his finger between the leaves, closed the volume. His 
frenzy had passed away. A great peace was shed upon him — it 
was all over. With a calm face he told Alypius what had 
happened, and without lingering he went into his mother's room 
to tell her also. Monnica was not surprised. It was long now 
since she had been told, " Where I am, there shalt thou be also." 
But she gave way to an outburst of joy. Her mission was done. 
Now she might sing her canticle of thanksgiving and enter into 
God's peace.^ 

' Louis Bertrand, Saint Augustin (trans, by V. O'SulUvan), 206. 

The Keys of the Kingdom. 



Abbott (L.), Signs of Promise, 115. 

Book (W. H.), The Columbus Tabernacle Sermons, VI. 

Burrell (D. J.), The Spirit of the Age, 306. 

Clow (W. M.), The Secret of the Lord, 57. 

Fraser (J.), Parochial and Other Sermons, 302. 

Howatt (J. R.), Jesus the Poet, 151. 

Jerdan (C), Oospel Milk and Honey, 54. 

Lewis (L. H.), Petros, 65. 

Norton (J. W.), Golden Truths, 326. 

Selby (T. G.), The Imperfect Angel, 261. 

Wright (W. B.), The World to Come, 45. 

Church ofEnglcmd Pulpit, Ixii. 376 (F. R. M. Hitcbcock). 

Church Family Newspaper, Feb. 17, 1911 (F. S. Webster). 


The Keys of the Kingdom. 

I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; and whatsoever 
thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou 
Shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.— Matt. xvi. 19. 

When this promise was given the little Galilean company was 
standing on one of the lower spurs of the Lebanon, amidst the 
pleasant rush and music of its countless brooks, with the grey 
walls of the Eoman castle at Csesarea Philippi in the distance. 
Peter had just made his great confession, and by his swift and 
far-reaching intuition had established his place as foremost man 
of the Twelve. It was under these circumstances that this peculiar 
form of expression was first used by our Lord. After speaking 
of the supernatural knowledge that Peter had received from the 
Father, Christ goes on to announce the important relation of Peter, 
as the first possessor and witness of such knowledge, to the Church 
of the future. And then He advances a step, and speaks of a 
future gift of light and power and dominion to Peter which the 
Apostle should receive from His hand : " And I will give unto 
thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." 


The Keys. 

" I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." 

Keys are the emblems of authority, and this language was 
addressed to Peter because of the power that was to be conferred 
on him. He was to arrange and toil, determine and order, in the 
affairs of Christ's Kingdom, not, of course, absolutely, but under 
Christ, for Christ is the Head. Peter's authority was to be real, 
but none the less derived from and dependent upon Christ's will. 


Now, as Peter's power was not to be absolute, so it was not to be 
solitary. It was to be shared by the other Apostles. That is not 
brought out in the text, for here Christ is dealing only with His 
servant who had so grandly confessed Him. But later on Christ 
conferred on the entire company of the disciples the same wonder- 
ful power and privilege as He had conferred on Peter, when He 
said, not to any Apostle in particular but to the entire Church, 
" Eeceive ye the Holy Ghost : Whose soever sins ye forgive, they 
are forgiven unto them ; whose soever sins ye retain, they are 
retained." One outcome of the authority was that Peter, like the 
others, could bind and unloose, could forbid or enjoin, what should 
be done in the Kingdom of Christ. Through the Apostle Christ 
was to express His will. Through him the Master was to carry 
on and carry out His purposes. What Peter ordered would be 
what Christ desired. What Peter forbade would be the things 
Christ disapproved, and herein was the reality of the power, herein 
the vastness of the privilege, that Christ was to work in and 
through him, for that is loftier and grander than for any man to 
devise and determine unaided and unguided of the Spirit of God. 
And it is in virtue of this real and true guiding Spirit that we 
have the Epistles of Paul, and Peter, and John, and others 
developing the doctrine of the cross of Christ, and setting forth 
the source of and the power of the Christian life. 

1. If we refer to another occasion upon which Christ used 
this metaphor of the keys, we shall find that Christ was accustomed 
to associate with the expression knowledge and the specific power 
that comes from knowledge. To the lawyers He said, " Ye took 
away the key of knowledge." The reference here can only be to 
the knowledge that unlocks the gates leading into the Kingdom 
of Heaven. That was Christ's future gift to Peter. Putting this 
side by side with the fact that Christ has just been speaking of a 
knowledge of His own person and character that had been given 
to Peter, what can the knowledge that Christ would by and by give 
be but the knowledge of the Pather, of which He was the one 
only spring and channel amongst men ? It was through that 
knowledge that Peter was to open the way for men into the 
Kingdom of Heaven. " To bind " and " to loose " was to teach 
and to rule in the Kingdom of Heaven, in harmony with the 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 305 

knowledge received from the Father. We observe that the 
promise deals more immediately with things, not persons; with 
truths and duties, not with human souls. The Apostles dealt 
with souls as all other disciples of Christ deal with them, ipter- 
mediately, through the truths and precepts on which the salvation 
of souls turned. The power of the keys, of binding and loosing, 
was in reality the power of knowing the essential truths of God's 
character and will. 

(1) It is the power of a teacher. Among the Jews, when a 
scribe was admitted to his office a key was given to him as the 
symbol of the duties which he was expected to perform. He was 
set apart to study with diligence the Book of the Law, and to read 
and explain it to the people. Jesus Christ reproved the Eabbis 
and Pharisees of His day for having taken away the key of 
knowledge, and for shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven against 
men, that is, trying to lock good men out. They knew little of 
the spirit of the law which they taught, and their teaching 
produced evil fruits in the lives of their countrymen. 

There is a sense in which all who faithfully preach the word 
of the Kingdom hold the keys. When we say that we have got 
the key to a difficulty, or that an army holds the key to a position, 
we mean that, however long it may be before the proof of the 
power is manifested, yet it is there. So with those who proclaim 
the truth as it is in Jesus. Their word may be derided, their 
warnings scorned, their entreaties mocked at; yet as the word 
they speak is not their own but the word of God, so shall that 
word loose or bind, shut up or set free. But it is the Lord who 
does this; man is but His agent for declaring His message. 
Every command or threat is heard by conscience, but the thing 
that is declared may be long a-coming. It will come, however. 
So with every word of the gospel : the truth in Jesus is the key 
of the Kingdom : the decisive proof we may be long in discovering, 
but early or late every one must iind a barred or an abundant 
entrance, according as he has given heed to or neglected the word 
of life. 

If When Luther opened the long-closed Bible in the Gospels 
and Epistles, he was bringing forth out of his treasury things new 
and old. He was binding and loosing the consciences of men. 
When Andrew Melville, in Scottish history, took King James by 

ST. MATT. — 20 


the sleeve as that pedant was arrogating to himself a spiritual 
power which was his neither by law nor by grace, and called him 
" God's silly vassal," reminding him that there were two kings 
and two kingdoms in Scotland, he may have been lacking in 
courtesy, but he was proving himself a scribe of the Kingdom. 
When John Brown of Harper's Ferry stooped to kiss the negro 
child in its slave mother's arms as he passed to his death, men of 
vision might have seen the keys of the Kingdom at his girdle. 
All men now realize that in his own rude way he taught the 
things of Christ to his own generation. Wherever and whenever 
the Christian Church, through its ministers and people and its 
inspired saints, shall stand to proclaim some high duty or to 
renounce some hoary wrong, they shall bind and they shall loose, 
and they shall fulfil the function of the Church in the Kingdom 
of God.i 

(2) Again, we are reminded that knowledge is necessary to 
life ; we believe and then do. The great principle is taught that 
the morality of Christianity flows directly from its theology, and 
that whoever, like Petgr, grasps firmly the cardinal truth of 
Christ's nature, and all which flows therefrom, will have his 
insight so cleared that his judgments on what is permitted or 
forbidden to a Christian man will correspond with the decisions 
of heaven, in the measure of his hold upon the truth which under- 
lies all religion and all morality, namely, " Thou art the Christ, 
the Son of the living God." These are gifts to Peter indeed, but 
only as possessor of that faith, and are much more truly under- 
stood as belonging to all who "possess like precious faith" (as 
Peter says) than as the prerogative of any individual or class. 

^ In a chapter of reminiscences which is given at the end of 
the second volume of the Letters of Erskine of Linlathen, Principal 
Shairp writes; "Mr. Erskine utterly repudiated the character 
which Eenan's Vie de J6sus drew of our Lord, and almost 
resented the fatuity which could separate with a sharp line the 
morality of the Gospels from their doctrinal teaching as to Christ 
Himself. He used to say, ' As you see in many English churches 
the Apostles' Creed placed on one side of the altar, on the other the 
Ten Commandments, so Eenan would divide as with a knife the 
moral precepts of the Gospels from their doctrines. Those he 
would retain, these he would throw away. Can anything be more 
blind ? As well might you expect the stem and leaves of a 
flower to flourish when you had cut away the root, as to retain the 
» W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 65. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 307 

morality of the Gospels when you have discarded its doctrinal 
basis. Faith in Christ, and G-od in Christ, is the only root from 
which true Christian morality can grow.' " ^ 

2. The history of St. Peter, as recorded in the Acts of the 
Apostles, reveals the facts that the lofty promise contained in the 
text was fulfilled in three important particulars. 

(1) He is first in the first election to the vacant apostolate. 
He is first in the first great conversion of souls. His word rolls 
like the storm. It cuts and pierces like the sword. We do not 
require to have the imagination exalted by the vast gilded letters 
round the cupola of St. Peter's at Eome. This is truly to hold the 
keys, and to roll back the doors of the Kingdom ! 

^ My mother's death was the second epoch in my father's 
life ; and for a man so self-reliant, so poised upon a centre of his 
own, it is wonderful the extent of change it made. He went 
home, preached her funeral sermon, every one in the church in 
tears, himself outwardly unmoved. But from that time dates an 
entire, though always deepening, alteration in his manner of preach- 
ing, because an entire change in his way of dealing with God's 
Word. Not that his abiding religious views and convictions were 
then originated or even altered — I doubt not that from a child he 
not only knew the Holy Scriptures, but was " wise unto salvation " 
— but it strengthened and clarified, quickened and gave permanent 
direction to, his sense of God as revealed in His Word. He took as 
it were to subsoil ploughing ; he got a new and adamantine point 
to the instrument with which he bored, and with a fresh power — 
with his whole might, he sunk it right down into the living rock, 
to the virgin gold. His entire nature had got a shock, and his 
blood was drawn inwards, his surface was chilled, but fuel was 
heaped all the more on the inner fires, and his zeal, that n iif/ih 
-ir/iayf^a, burned with a new ardour ; indeed had he not found an 
outlet for his pent-up energy, his brain must have given way, and 
his faculties have either consumed themselves in wild, wasteful 
splendour and combustion or dwindled into lethargy. . . . Prom 
being elegant, rhetorical, and ambitious in his preaching, he 
became concentrated, urgent, moving (being himself moved), keen, 
searching, unswerving, authoritative to fierceness, full of the 
terrors of the Lord, if he could but persuade men. The truth of 
the words of God had shone out upon him with an immediateness 
and infinity of meaning and power which made them, though the 
same words he had looked on from childhood, other and greater and 
• Letters of Thomas JErskine of LinloUhen, 1840-1870, p. 376. 


deeper words. He then left the ordinary commentators, and men 
who write about meanings and flutter around the circumference 
and corners ; he was bent on the centre, on touching with his own 
fingers, on seeing with his own eyes, the pearl of great price. 
Then it was that he began to dig into the depths, into the primary 
and auriferous rock of Scripture, and take nothing at another's 
hand: then he took up with the word "apprehend"; he had 
laid hold of the truth, — there it was, with its evidence, in his hand ; 
and every one who knew him must remember well how, in speak- 
ing with earnestness of the meaning of a passage, he, in his ardent, 
hesitating way, looked into the palm of his hand, as if he actually 
saw there the truth he was going to utter.^ 

(2) But the great promise to Peter is fulfilled in a second way. 
Spiritual sin would steal into the Church ; it would glide in under 
a haze of profession and pretence, as Milton tells us that Satan 
passed in mist into Paradise. It is Peter who speaks with such 
awful power. Simon makes an attempt to buy the gift of God 
with money, and brands upon his own name for ever its ill- 
omened connexion with the foul offence (far from obsolete) of 
buying spiritual offices. Peter's voice pronounces his condemna- 
tion. " All men," says the Koran, " are commanded by the saint." 
All men know, if only by instinct, that this priesthood of good- 
ness has been won at the cross, in blood, the " crimson of which 
gives a living hue to all form, all history, all life." Let us no 
longer lose our purchase of this mighty term, through fear of its 
sacerdotal connotations. Dissociated from the institution, as it 
has been well pointed out, the true priest makes good his claims 
to mediatorship in the heart of his fellows, solely by the possession 
of those spiritual qualities which create and confirm the impres- 
sion that he is nearer to God than they. 

^ Francis of Assisi is pre-eminently the saint of the Middle 
Ages. Owing nothing to church or school, he was truly theo- 
didact, and if he perhaps did not perceive the revolutionary 
bearing of his preaching, he at least always refused to be ordained 
priest. He divined the superiority of the spiritual priesthood. 
The charm of his life is that, thanks to reliable documents, we 
find the man behind the wonder worker. We find in him not 
merely noble actions, we find in him a life in the true meaning of 
the word ; I mean, we feel in him both development and struggle. 
How mistaken are the annals of the Saints in representing him as 

' Dr. John Brown, Hora Subaeeivce, ii. 9. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 309 

from the very cradle surrounded with aureole and nimbus ! As if 
the finest and most manly of spectacles were not that of the man 
who conquers his soul hour after hour, fighting against himself, 
against the suggestions of egoism, idleness, discouragement, then 
at the moment when he might believe himself victorious, finding 
in the champions attracted by his ideal those who are destined 3 
not to bring about its complete ruin, at least to give it its most 
terrible blows. Poor Francis ! The last years of his life were 
indeed a via dolorosa as painful as that where his Master sank 
,down under the weight of the cross; for it is still a joy to die for 
one's ideal, but what bitter pain to look on in advance at the 
apotheosis of one's body, while seeing one's soul — I would say his 
thought — misunderstood and frustrated.^ 

(3) But there is exhibited yet another fulfilment to the great 
promise. Peter is also the first to divine the secret of God, to 
follow the mind of the Spirit. He climbs rapidly to the highest 
peak, and is the first herald of the dawn. The old is, no doubt, 
very dear to him ; he clings to all that is devout and venerable 
with the tenacious loyalty of a true Hebrew churchman. He 
goes up " into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth 
hour." He ascends the house-top "to pray at the sixth hour." 
The services of the Temple and of the synagogue go on upon a 
parallel line with the first eucharists. But this Hebraic Christi- 
anity, or Christian ^ Hebraism, cannot continue indefinitely. 
There are souls among the Gentiles longing for forgiveness, for 
i-est and purity. They are not to dwell in the shadow, to tarry 
disappointed in the vestibule for ever. It is for Peter to fling 
back the doors once again. He receives the vision in the house 
of Simon, the tanner, by the seaside. 

Far o'er the glowing western main 
His wistful brow was upward raised. 

Where, like an angel's burning train. 
The burnished waters blazed. 

And now his part as founder and rock is almost over. The 
reception of Cornelius is his last great act. The last mention of 
his name in St. Luke's narrative is in these sentences : " There 
rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, say- 
ing, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command 
them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders 
1 P. Sabatier, Life of St. Francis (f Assist, p. xt. 


came together for to consider of this matter. And when there 
had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them" — 
his last words are characteristic — " But we believe that through 
the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as 


The Power of the Keys. 

"Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and 
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 

Although the notion of opening and shutting shades off into 
that of " binding and loosing,'' it is obvious that the less familiar 
expression would not have been substituted for the more familiar 
without some specific reason, which reason is in this case supplied 
by the well-known meaning of the words themselves. The figure 
of " binding and loosing," for " allowing as lawful, or forbidding as 
unlawful," is so simple and obvious that no language has been 
wholly without it. Twice besides the expression is used : " Verily 
I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound 
in heaven : and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed 
in heaven" (Matt, xviii. 18) ; and "Whose soever sins ye forgive, 
they are forgiven unto them ; whose soever sins ye retain, they 
are retained " (John xx. 23). On these occasions the words are 
spoken to others besides St. Peter, and on each occasion the sense 
is substantially the same: "So great shall be the authority of 
your decisions, that, unlike those of the ordinary schools or Rabbis, 
whatsoever you shall declare lawful shall be held lawful, what- 
soever you shall declare unlawful shall be held unlawful, in the 
highest tribunal in heaven." 

1. It is, as it were, the solemn inauguration of the right of the 
Christian's conscience to judge with a discernment of good and 
evil, to which up to this time the world had seen no parallel. In 
that age, when the foundations of all ancient belief were shaken, 
when acts which up to that time had been regarded as lawful or 
praiseworthy were now condemned as sinful, or which before had 
been regarded as sinful were now enjoined as just and holy, it 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 311 

was no slight comfort to have it declared, by the one authority 
which all Christians acknowledged as Divine, that there were 
those living on the earth on whose judgment in these disputed 
matters the Church might rely with implicit confidence. In the 
highest sense of all, doubtless, this judgment was exercised by 
Him alone who taught " as one having authority, and not as the 
scribes," and who on the Mount of the new law drew the line be- 
tween His own commandments and what was said by them of old 
time. In a lower sense it was exercised, and has ever since been 
exercised, by all those who by their teaching or their lives, by 
their words or their example, have impressed the world more 
deeply with a sense of what is Christian holiness and what is 
Christian liberty. In an intermediate sense, it has been 
exercised by those whose special gifts or opportunities have 
made them in a more than ordinary degree the oracles and law- 
givers of the moral and spiritual society in which they have been 
placed. Such, above all, were the Apostles. By their own lives 
and teaching, by their Divinely sanctioned judgments on in- 
dividual cases (as St. Paul on Elymas or the 'incestuous Cor- 
inthian) or on general principles (as in their Epistles), they have, 
in a far higher sense than any other human beings, bound and 
loosed the consciences, remitted and retained the sins, of the 
whole huinan race for ever. 

The Jewish scribe kept the treasury of knowledge. His keys 
were his powers of reading and understanding and applying the 
law of God. He was the expositor of God's word, the interpreter 
of God's mind, the commentator on God's counsels, the teacher of 
the truth made known to him by God. He hound the things of 
God — His laws, His ideals of life and duty. His lawful sanctions. 
His sacred and mystic revelation of Himself — upon men's hearts 
and consciences. He looseci men's minds and wills from any 
bondage, or any tyranny of unrighteous laws, and he enabled 
them to refrain from indulging in things forbidden. What the 
Jewish scribe with the keys of knowledge and truth and duty was 
to the Law, the Christian Church should be to the Kingdom of God. 
" Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is 
like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out 
of his treasure things new and old." That describes both Christ's 
own office as the Master and His disciples as His Church. 


^ Go into an observatory, and watch some astronomer as he 
is following the transit of a star. His telescope is so adjusted 
that an ingenious arrangement of clock-work is made to shift 
it with the transit of the star. His instrument is moving in 
obedience to the movement of the star in the heavens. But the 
clock-work does not move the star. The astronomer has made 
his faultless calculations ; the mechanic has adjusted his cranks 
and pendulums and wheels and springs with unerring nicety, and 
every movement in the telescope answers to the movement of the 
star in the far-off heavens. The correspondence rests on know- 
ledge. And so when the things that are bound on earth are 
bound in heaven. Every legislative counsel and decree and 
movement in a truly apostolic and inspired Church answers to 
some counsel and decree and movement in the heavens. But 
then the power of discerning and forecasting the movements 
of the Divine will and government rests upon the power 
of interpreting the Divine character and applying its princi- 
ples of action, as that character is communicated to us by 
Jesus Christ.^ 

% Over thirty years ago Scotland was overwhelmed by a great 
commercial disaster through the failure of one of its leading 
banks. It was a calamity that could not stand alone, and day 
after day the strongest business houses were compelled to suspend 
payment. The distress brought upon the shareholders, many of 
them widows and orphans brought in a single morning to poverty, 
was so great that a gigantic lottery of six millions sterling was 
proposed. One half of these millions was to be given to sub- 
scribers. The other half was to be given to relieve the distress 
of those who were impoverished. The object seemed so praise- 
worthy, and the misery was so widespread and so extreme, that 
many of the wisest and clearest minds in Scotland gave it their 
support. Suddenly Principal Eainy, the foremost Christian 
minister of this land in his day, raised his voice. In a letter full 
of invincible argument, couched in courteous and appealing terms, 
he protested against this appeal to the very passions and follies, 
the greed and the gambling, which had produced the ruin. The 
scheme was dropped in a day. He had bound and loosed the 
consciences of men. All Scotland understood, for one moment at 
least, the true meaning of the power of the keys.* 

2. The power given by these words perhaps goes further still, 

and implies, under certain extraordinary conditions, fitness and 

1 T. G. Selby, The Imperfect Angel, 266. 
» W. M. Clow, Tht Secret of the Lord, 64. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 313 

qualification to pronounce an unerring spiritual judgment upon 
the soul's relation to God. And this leads us to ask the question, 
Upon what conditions does this power of opening and closing the 
Kingdom of Heaven, and of retaining and remitting the sin of 
men, rest ? We observe, in the first case, that nothing whatever 
was promised to Peter, except so far as he was already the 
subject of a teaching inspiration, and was to become so in a yet 
richer degree in future days. He held the keys, and could bind 
and loose in so far as the Son was revealed to him by the Father . 
and the Father by the Son, and not one iota beyond. He could 
not open the gates of the Kingdom by any private authority and 
apart from the possession of these truths. Then we come to the 
promise of this same power to the whole congregation of the 
disciples. There is no power of binding and loosing apart from 
Christ's indwelling presence within the Church. And then we 
come to the last case. Christ connected the power of absolution 
with a symbolic act, in which He made the disciples recipients of 
His own life, and partakers and instruments of the Holy Ghost 
by that fellowship. But it will be observed that there is no 
valid retention or remission of sin that can be pronounced 
to men, except by the lips of which the Holy Ghost is the 
unceasing breath. Given that condition in the case of either 
priest or layman, one may safely extend to him the power of 

Tf As the doctor takes the key of his drug-store and selects 
from the specifics that are arranged around him, he kills or makes 
alive. His key means a power of absolution. When it is first 
put into his hand he is instructed with as solemn a responsibility 
as the Judge who pronounces death-sentences. When he selects 
this drug, or looks upon that as hopeless to apply under the 
conditions into which the patient has fallen, he is dealing with 
questions of life and death. And so Christ in His closing 
admonitions to the disciples teaches that they are not dealing 
with speculative truth only. The doctrine they are set forth to 
disseminate is not, like the curious and trivial questions discussed 
by some of the Eabbis, a matter that cannot possibly affect the 
spiritual well-being of a single human soul in the slightest 
degree. They are not following out questions that have a hypo- 
thetical value only. It is not for some idle debate in the groves 
that they are setting forth in the scanty outfit of couriers. They 
are commissioned to deal with grave, spiritual destinies. " Whose 


soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose 
soever sins ye retain, they are retained." ^ 

^ We are told that, throughout the strain of the civil war in 
America, Abraham Lincoln found a true priest in the godly and 
much-suffering woman who had charge of his children. He, who 
became more powerful than any monarch of modern times 
through the reverence of his countrymen for the man he was, 
tells us how he was sustained in that awful crisis of national 
calamity and personal sorrow by the prayers in his behalf of this 
. stricken, yet believing woman. She knew God, Lincoln felt, so 
she became God's priest to Lincoln. He resorted to her for inter- 
cession on his behalf — he who would, as one truly remarks, have 
treated with " courteous and civil incredulity a proffer of sacer- 
dotal good of&ces from Cardinal Gibbons." * 

3. Yet the responsibility is always with the man himself. 
To each soul personally God gives the keys of his own destiny and 
bids him unlock life's closed doors ; puts in his hands the rudder 
and bids him steer his bark ; gives him the tools and bids him 
model his own character. This is the most solemn fact of all, for 
this is an undivided and unshared responsibility. I may throw 
on others the blame for the failure of the State and the sins of 
the Church ; but for my decisions respecting my own life I am 
alone responsible. In vain the reluctant receiver protests against 
taking the key of his own life ; in vain he endeavours to pass it 
to some other one ; in vain he seeks to avoid the necessity of 
deciding life's problems and making life's choice. Sometimes he 
seeks a father-confessor and asks him to take the key and bind 
and loose his life for him ; and the father-confessor may accept 
the trust. But it is in vain. Every one of us shall give account 
of himself to God. Whether the father-confessor sits in a priest's 
chair, or in a Protestant minister's chair, or in a religious editor's 
chair, he can take no responsibility ; he can give counsel, but that 
is all. To each soul God has given the keys ; each soul must 
bind and loose for itself. 

^ A father whose wealth is in ships and warehouses and rail- 
roads, but who has an acre garden attached to the country home- 
stead, summons his boys one spring, as he is going to Europe, and 
says to them, " I put this garden in your charge ; spend what 

' T. G. Selby, The Imperfeci Aiigel, 268. 

' A. Shepherd, Bible Stvdiet in Living Subjeett, 231. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 19 315 

you will ; cultivate according to your own best judgment ; send 
the product to the market ; and account to me for sales and 
expenditures when I get home." "But, Father," say the boys, 
" what shall we sow 1" "I cannot tell you ; you must judge for 
yourselves." "Where shall we sell?" ''Find out for your- 
selves." " What prices ought we to get ? " " Learn for yourselves." 
" But, Father, we know nothing about gardening ; we shall make 
dreadful mistakes." " No doubt you will," replies the father, 
" and you will learn by your mistakes ; and it is your learning, 
not the gardening, I care for." " But, Father, we are afraid we 
shall bankrupt you." The father laughs and replies, " You can- 
not bankrupt me, if you try, with a summer's gardening on an 
acre plot." " But, Father," finally protest the boys, " we are 
afraid that when you come back and see how poorly we have done 
you will find fault with us and be sorry that you gave us such a 
trust." And the father catches up a piece of paper and writes 
upon it : " Know all men by these presents that I hereby appoint 
my boys, James and John, my true and lawful attorneys, to do all 
things that may be necessary in the cultivation and charge of my 
acre garden, and I hereby ratify and confirm beforehand what- 
ever they may do." And he signs it, hands it to them, and goes 
his way. So God gives to us. His children, in this summer 
day out of eternity which we call life, and on this little acre 
plot of ground out of the universe which we call the world, 
the responsibility and the liberty involved in the charge of 
our own destinies, and with this He gives power of attorney 
promising beforehand to ratify and confirm whatever we do 
in loyal service to Him and in loyal allegiance to His name 
and honour.^ 

^ Whatever' may have been the influences which concurred in 
effecting this fundamental transformation in Dr. Martineau's 
philosophical system, there can be little doubt that when he 
preached the striking sermon on " The Christian View of Moral 
Evil " the process was virtually completed. That discourse gives 
expression in the most emphatic terms to the doctrine of Ethical 
Individualism, which forms the keynote of his moral philosophy. 
" This sense," he says, " of individual accountability — notwith- 
standing the ingenuity of orthodox divines on the one hand, and 
necessarian philosophers on the other — is impaired by all refer- 
ence of the evil that is in us to any source beyond ourselves. . . , 
There is no persuasion more indispensable to this state of mind, 
and consequently no impression which Christianity more pro- 
foundly leaves upon the heart, than that of the personal origin 
' L. Abbott, Signs of Promite, 187. 


and personal identity of sin, — its individual incommunicable 
character. . . . Hence it appears impossible to defend the doctrines 
of Philosophical Necessity — which presents God to us as the 
author of sin and suffering — from the charge of invading the 
sense of personal responsibility." ^ 

^ The Life ami Letters of James Martineav,, ii. 271. 

The Cost of Disciplbship. 



Armstrong (R. A.), Memoir and Sermons, 195. 

Bishop (J. W.), The Christian Year and the Christian Life, 117. 

Black (J.), The Pilgrim Ship, 189. 

Butler (W. A.), Sermons, i. 24. 

Gibbon (J. M.), In the Days of Youth, 59. 

Lawlor (H. J.), Thoughts on Belief and Life, 62. 

Mackenzie (R.), The Loom of Providence, 69. 

Macpherson (W. M.), The Path of Life, 198. 

Matheeon (G.), Searching} in the Silence, 56. 

Moody (0. N.), Love's Long Campaign, 114. 

Parker (J.), The City Temple, ii. 258. 

Sampson (E. F.), Christ Church Sermons, 265. 

Trumbull (H. C), Our Misunderstood Bible, 130. 

Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), ii. (1862), No. 323. 

Vickery (J.), Ideals of Life, 295. 

Watkinson (W. L.), 2'he Supreme Conquest, 158. 

Watson (J.), Respectable Sins, 83. 

Christian World Pulpit, vii. 305 (D. Thomas) ; xii. 394 (H. W. Beecher) ; 

Ivii. 219 (C. Gore). 
Church of England Pulpit, liii. 163 (J. P. Sandlands). 
Chv/rch Family Newspaper, April 7, 1911 (W. C. E. Newbolt). 


The Cost of Discipleship. 

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, 
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.— Matt. xvi. 24. 

These words were spoken by our Lord when He first began 
definitely to prepare the minds of His disciples for the humilia- 
tion, and suffering, and death which lay before Him. The con- 
ception of a suffering Messiah was so alien to the thought of 
His time that it became needful to prepare the minds of His 
immediate followers for receiving the Divine idea of self-sacrifice, 
which He was to reveal in His sufferings and death. " From that 
time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he 
must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders 
and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised 
again the third day." One of them, with characteristic im- 
pulsiveness, repudiated the idea; and Jesus, reading at once 
the earthly thoughts which prompted the remonstrance of Peter, 
laid down the indispensable condition of spiritual life, the Divine 
law of self-sacrifice : " If any man would come after me, let him 
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoso- 
ever would save his life, shall lose it ; and whosoever shall lose 
his life for my sake, shall find it." 

1. There was a special truth in these words for the disciples 
to whom they were spoken; and to them they were primarily 
addressed. No one could become a faithful follower of Jesus with- 
out being prepared to renounce everything, without carrying his 
life itself in his hand. And the first desire of Jesus in speaking 
these words was undoubtedly to make Peter and the rest of his 
companions understand clearly the absolute degree of the self- 
sacrifice which they must make in spirit, if they would be 
thoroughly associated with the Leader in whom they believed. 
He was going before them bearing His cross, submitting before- 



hand to the igaominy and pain which were to be openly reaUzed ; 
He was thus submitting, not in spite of His Divine nature, but 
because He was the perfect Son of the righteous and loving 
Father. If His disciples would cherish the high ambition of 
being His friends and followers ; if they would look forward to 
the joy and the crown with which true sacrifice was to be rewarded 
— they also must tread in the steps of the Master, they must be 
content to serve and submit, they must gird themselves to the 
unreserved offering of themselves to God. 

2. The Christian life also is one of service, of submission. 
Men do not sit and sing themselves away to everlasting bliss; 
the way thither is the way of the yoke. Christ is very frank 
about this ; He allures no man to follow Him by false pretences. 
When men would follow Garibaldi to the liberty of Italy, he 
warned them that there would be hunger and thirst and fatigue, 
battle and wounds and death to be endured. Those who would 
follow must be willing to bear the yoke. When men would 
follow Christ, He frankly said, "Take my yoke upon you" 
— the yoke of service, of self-denial, of submission. " He that 
taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy 
of me." 

^ When Bernard of Quintavalle, convinced of the rare grace 
granted by God to Francis, and longing to come under its 
power, determined to join him, the saint, notwithstanding his joy, 
gave proof of that sound judgment upon which the commune 
had learned to draw, by proposing that since the life of renuncia- 
tion was hard, they must lay the whole matter before the Lord, 
who would Himself be its judge and their counsellor. So they 
repaired to St. Nicholas' Church, and, after the office, knelt long 
in prayer for guidance. The curate of St. Nicholas was their 
friend, and he consulted the gospel text when their minds were 
prepared to accept its mandates. The first time he opened it 
these words met his eyes : " Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou 
hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven : 
and come, take up thy cross, and follow me." The second time, 
the very gospel which had lately impelled Francis to preach was 
on the open page (Luke ix. 1-6), while the third test of Bernard's 
faith was found to be the great and strenuous commandment: 
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take 
up his cross daily, and follow me." Bernard bowed his head in 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 321 

obedience to all three, and leaving the church, he and Francis at 
once set about selling his houses and possessions, and bestowing 
the money realized on hospitals, poor monasteries, the neediest 
townsfolk. Then, having finished this affair, the brothers passed 
down to the plain, and a new stage in the Franciscan movement 
was initiated.^ 

There are three things in the text — 

I. Self-denial — " Let him deny himself." 
II. Cross-bearing — " And take up his cross." 
III. Following—" And follow me." 


" Let him deny himself." 

1. " If any man would come after me," said Jesus, " let him 
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Here Jesus 
makes the duty of denying self an essential requisite of Christian 
discipleship. A man cannot be a follower of Jesus unless he 
denies himself, or, as the Greek term indicates, denies himself 
utterly. The requirement is not the denial of anything, either 
little or much, to self, but the utter denial of self — a very im- 
portant and too often unrecognized difference. 

As the term stands in the Greek, the injunction of our Lord to 
His every disciple, to " deny himself," includes the idea of turning 
oneself away from oneself, of rejecting self as the desire of 
self. It suggests the thought of two centres — self and Christ — 
the one to be denied and the other accepted as an object of 
attraction and devotedness. Its use in the original seems to say : 
" If you would turn toward Me, you must turn away from yourself. 
If you would accept Me as the chief object of desire, you must 
renounce yourself as such an object. If you would henceforward 
live in My service, you must at once cease to live for your own 
pleasure and interest." 

It is a very common mistake concerning the nature of self- 
denial to suppose that it involves a constant thought of self, in 
order to the entire subjection of self. As a matter of fact, he who 
' Anna M. Stoddart, Fremcis of Assm, 95. 
ST. MATT. — 21 


lives the truest life of self-denial has very little trouhle with 
himself. Being absorbed in an object of interest outside of 
himself, he forgets himself ; living for something worthier of his 
devotion, he does not give any worrying thought to that self from 
which he has turned away in his enthusiastic pursuit of a nobler 
aim. A soldier is worth little as a soldier until he forgets himself 
in his interest in his military duties. If he even thinks of pro- 
longing or protecting his life, he is more likely to lose it than if 
he is absorbed in the effort to do his work manfully as a soldier. 
An unselfish interest in our fellows causes us to forget ourselves 
in our loving thought of others. An unselfish interest in our 
Friend of friends takes us away from ourselves, and fills our mind 
with a simple purpose of pleasing and serving Him. A life of self- 
denial is not a life of conflict with self ; it is rather a life turned 
away from self in utter self-forgetfulness. 

^ Self-denial is not an outward act, but an inward turning of 
our being. As the steamship is turned about by the rudder, 
which is swung by the means of a wheel, so there is within our 
being a rudder, or whatever you may call it, which is turned by a 
small wheel, and as we turn the entire craft either leeward or 
windward, we deny either self or God. In its deepest sense we 
always deny either the one or the other. When we stand well 
we deny self; in all other cases we deny God. And the internal 
wheel by which we turn the entire craft of our ego is our intention. 
The rudder determines the course of the ship ; not its rigging and 
cargo, nor the character of the crew, but its direction, the 
destination of the voyage, its final haven. Hence, when we see 
our craft steering away from God, we swing the rudder the other 
way and compel it to run toward God.^ 

2. We have often to deny ourselves in matters that may be in 
themselves allowable. If they tend in our case to withdraw our 
hearts from Christ, we must be willing to give them up. Being 
innocent in themselves, we might be at liberty to choose them or 
not as we liked, but we have to think of the discipline and 
maturity of our Christian character, and in regard to this such 
voluntary sacrifices are in the sight of God of great price, 
moulding us as they do into a loving and wide embracing obedi- 
ence to Him. Again and again we may have to deny ourselves 
' A. Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, 605. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 323 

things that seem fitted for adding to our enjoyment, but when we 
think how Christ denied Himself the most ordinary comforts, not 
seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister, and giving His life 
a ransom for us, shall we for a moment hesitate to drink of His 
spirit that we may do likewise? Very anxiously have we to 
remember that there is no Christian self-denial in anything that is 
done merely as self-denial — that all true self-sacrifice is uncon- 
scious of itself, strives not to think of itself, but longs simply to 
please Christ and to do His will and work, without reckoning the 
cost or trial. 

If It is said that prior to the rise of Christianity not one of 
the Western languages had any word for self-denial. The austere 
moralists of India, indeed, had long since taught the sacrifice of 
inclination to lofty ideals of duty. But Greece and Eome, nay, 
even Israel, had not contemplated self-denial as in itself essential 
to virtuous or devout character ; and so they had coined no word 
for it. But when one by one the Western nations were subdued 
by the spiritual weapons sharpened in the armoury of Christ, the 
idea and the word "self-denial" quickly came to the front in 
preaching and in practice. Nor will any student of the Gospels 
deny that this is quite a characteristic and typical utterance of 
Jesus : " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross, and follow me." * 

(1) We are constantly tempted to self-indulgence, to do simply 
what is easy and pleasant to us, agreeable to our tastes, inclina- 
tions, and habits, and leave others to do or leave undone altogether 
the things that are not according to our taste or that require from 
us any care or effort or sacrifice. All analogy, and all reason, and 
all Scripture teach us that we must not consult our own ease and 
pleasure, that we must not make a kind of pastime of religious 
service, that we must not be earnest and self-denying in our 
ordinary calling, and then come to Christ's work as an entertain- 
ment for our leisure hours, just playing with the great cause of 
God. We must not do that ; we must work if we would have 
God to work with us. It is when we do our part that we have 
any right at all to expect that God will do His part; it is when 
we do our very best — and we cannot do our very best without 
much thought, and much prayer, and much effort ; without facing 
difficulties, without strain, without doing some hard things, some 
^ E. C. Armstrong, Memoir wnd Sermons, 195. 


painful things. We cannot do our best without all this, and it is 
when we do our best that we can expect God to do the most. 

^ You have all, I dare say, seen lightning conductors put up on 
buildings in London ; and perhaps you wondered why they were 
put up. Well the reason is this : the lightning is on the look out 
for an easy way to come down to the earth ; it finds it very hard 
to go through the air. That is the reason why we hear the 
thunder : it is the noise the lightning makes because it has to 
come through the air so quickly. And the air tries to stop it 
coming at all. If it could get on to anything — on to tlie spire of 
this church, for example — and slide down, it would be a very easy 
way of getting along. But it wouldn't be a good thing for the 
spire ; and so they put up lightning conductors — rods right up 
into the air — so that if the lightning is coming anywhere near, it 
may get on to the rod and so slip right down into the earth, 
without doing any harm to the church. For it is always looking 
out for the easiest way dovm,} 

(2) Self-seeking is another form of temptation that we must 
guard against. We are tempted to serve ourselves in God's service, 
to seek for our own ends when we are professedly and really 
engaged in His work. Sometimes the selfish end is indirectly 
sought by us, as when it is the glory, honour, power, and triumph 
of our party or sect or denomination that we labour for. Some- 
times the selfish end is directly before us, as when it is our own 
influence, or position, or honour, or praise that we seek after. 
The love of man's approbation is natural to us, and it is quite 
legitimate that we should seek it, and that we should appreciate 
it ; but how very apt it is to degenerate into downright selfishness, 
and how very often we are tempted in connexion with God's own 
work to seek chiefly, to seek unduly, our own selfish ends. 

^ You remember that wonderful parable in the Peer Oynt of 
Ibsen. The worn-out wanderer, grown hoary in selfishness, a 
past-master in self-seeking, in a rare moment of reflection takes 
an onion in his hand, and begins to strip it, scale by scale, and 
the fancy takes him that each scale or flake or lobe or fold repre- 
sents some experience of his past, some relation in which he has 
stood to others in the long and chequered experience of life. 
This one is Peer Gynt tossed " in the jolly-boat after the wreck." 
This is Peer Gynt a steerage passenger sailing westward over the 
Atlantic. This is Peer Gynt the merchant, this Peer Gynt as he 

' J. M. Gibbon, In the Days of YmUh, 00. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 325 

played the prophet. What a host of parts he has played ! What 
a host of folds lie around the central core or kernel of the onion ! 
When he comes to the actual centre, that will stand for Peer 
Gynt himself, his inner self, apart from all the parts he has 
played, apart from all the relations to others he has held. And 
he strips and strips, smaller and smaller are the onion-flakes as 
he nears the centre. What will the centre be ? And in his im- 
patience he tears half a dozen away at once. 

There seem a terrible lot of flakes, 

To get to the core what a time it takes! 

Yes, gramercy, it does, one divides and divides; 

And there lis no kernel: it's all outsides! 

That is the parable as the great Scandinavian dramatist has 
written it. And it is a parable which may be variously applied. 
Strip away from your life, your soul, every relation in which you 
stand to other lives, other souls, than your own. You may think 
thereby to reach at last your own very life or soul ; but you will 
find that there is no self there. You live only in your relations 
to others than yourself. Annihilate these and you are yourself 



"And take up his cross." 

1. Cross-bearing is usually regarded as the bearing of burdens, 
or the enduring of trials in Christ's service, or for Christ's sake. 
It is impossible to give ourselves up to Christ without suffering 
some loss or trouble. In early days the consequence might be 
martyrdom; in our own day it always involves some sacrifice. 
Now, the cross which the Christian has to bear is not inevitable 
trouble, such as poverty, sickness, or the loss of friends by death. 
These things would have been in our lot if we had not been 
Christians. They are our burdens, our thorns in the flesh. They 
are sent to us, not taken by us. But the cross is something 
additional. This is taken up voluntarily ; it is in our power to 
refuse to touch it. We bear it, not because we cannot escape, but 
because it is a consequence of our following Christ ; and the good 
' R. A. Armstrong, Memoir wild Sermons, 223. 


of bearing it is that we cannot otherwise closely follow Him. He, 
then, is the true Christian who will bear any cross and endure 
any hardship that is involved in loyally following his Lord and 

When Jesus found His disciples expectant of honours in His 
service as the Messiah, and longing for places nearest Him when 
He should be uplifted in His Kingdom, He told them that they 
little knew what they were asking. His first uplifting was to be 
on a cross. Would they be willing to share that experience with 
Him ? " Ye know not what ye ask," He said. " Are ye able to 
drink the cup that I drink ? " It costs something, He suggested, 
to be My follower. A man who enlists in My service must do so 
with a halter round his neck. If he cares more for his life than 
for Me, he is unfitted to be one of My disciples. " If any man 
Cometh unto me, and hateth not [in comparison with me] his own 
father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and 
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 
Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, 
cannot be my disciple." 

T[ Tertullian, speaking to us out of the second century, tells 
us how the Christians of his day were wont to carry about with 
them everywhere the sign of the cross, at every step, at every 
movement, sealing themselves with it. It is now honoured and 
consecrated ; our very churches are built in its shape and orna- 
mented with its figure. But then, to those poor Galileans, Who 
had left all to follow Christ, who dimly dreamed of kingliness and 
victor pomp, of thrones on the right and thrones on the left, and 
the fulfilment of patriotic dreams — taking up the cross, it was a 
thing strange and abhorrent, and contrary to their religious con- 
victions, " Cursed is every one that hangeth on the tree." * 

^ The idea of these words, says Euskin, "has been exactly 
reversed by modern Protestantism, which sees in the Cross, not a 
f urea to which it is to be nailed ; but a raft on which it, and all 
its valuable properties, are to be floated into Paradise." We need 
but superficial knowledge of current ways of speaking and writing 
among some religious people to know that there is much that goes 
a good way to excuse or to justify this very severe criticism.^ 

2. Each has his particular cross to bear. This we have each to 
discover for ourselves, and bear as we follow Him. Never are we 
' Canon Newbolt. ° E. F. Sampson, Christ Church Sermons, 265. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 327 

to invent crosses for ourselves, and most anxiously are we to take 
heed that we do not make them for others, for this would indeed 
be to sin against God, and to bring continued misery on those 
beside us. Our own cross is close at hand, and we are to see 
rising high above it that awful yet most blessed and now vacant 
cross on which the Son of God suffered that He might win us 
back to the Father. We think how much easier it would be for 
us, and how much more devout and vigorous a Christian life we 
should lead, if we could but " change " our own cross for some 
other one that we imagine we could readily name, thus wishing 
even our trials to be bent to our own self-will, and suited to what 
we think for our comfort. We think that we can judge of the 
crosses which others have to bear, and that ours is often so much 
heavier than theirs. We may even magnify our own cross until 
it almost shuts out of view that awe-inspiring cross on which our 
Saviour offered Himself unto death. We may have sore trial from 
some beside us, owing to our "choosing that good part" which 
He sets before us, and we may have daily to bear this cross, 
which in His wise permission He allows to be laid upon us, 
although we feel that by only a little change in their disposition 
they themselves would be blessed, and all life made different 
to us. 

^ There is a poem called The Changed Cross. It represents a 
weary one who thought that her cross was surely heavier than 
those of others whom she saw about her, and wished that she 
might choose another instead of her own. She slept, and in her 
dream she was led to a place where many crosses lay, crosses of 
divers shapes and sizes. There was a little one most beauteous to 
behold, set in jewels and gold. " Ah, this I can wear with com- 
fort," she said. So she took it up, but her weak form shook 
beneath it. The jewels and the gold were beautiful, but they 
were far too heavy for her. Next she saw a lovely cross with 
fair flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely that 
was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were 
piercing thorns which tore her flesh. At last, as she went on, she 
came to a plain cross, without jewels, without carving, with only 
a few words of love inscribed upon it. This she took up, and it 
proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. And as she looked 
upon it, bathed in the radiance that fell from heaven, she recog- 
nized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the 
best of all and lightest for her. 


God knows best what cross we need to bear. We do not 
know how heavy other people's crosses are. We envy some one 
who is rich ; his is a golden ci'oss set with jewels. But we do not 
know how heavy it is. Here is another whose life seems very 
lovely. She bears a cross twined with flowers. But we do not 
know what sharp thorns are hidden beneath the flowers. If we 
could try all the other crosses that we think lighter than ours, we 
should at last find that not one of them suited us so well as our 


Following the Master. 

"And follow me." 

1. Christ pictures Himself here, not as the Eedeemer, but as 
the Leader and Pattern. It was a great event for the world when 
there was born into it the Perfect Man. Formerly the children of 
men were aware that they fell short of the perfection that was in 
God ; but they did not suspect that one born of woman could actually 
attain such holiness. Jesus disclosed what man could be and do. 

^ Mechanics are well aware that the engines on which they 
spend their powers are far from perfect. But, if some day a 
machine immensely superior to any that had been produced were 
devised and constructed by one of themselves, the whole trade 
would at once undergo a revolution. Employers, designers, 
draughtsmen, moulders, finishers, fitters, the whole population of 
the place, would vie with one another in their efforts to equal or 
surpass the achievement. If, perhaps, like ignorant Eussian 
peasants, they broke the splendid instrument, or if they put it 
into a glass case as a mere curiosity, yet, after a while, a wiser 
counsel would prevail. Our great Fellow-workman produced a 
matchless work; and although for a time His jealous comrades 
endeavoured to crush it and to suppress the very mention of it, 
yet, in the end, they began to copy it. The life of Jesus, if it had 
been an example and nothing more, must certainly have left its 
mark on the customs of the world.^ 

2. It has been suggested that this phrase, though authentic, 
may perhaps be misplaced as we have it here in Matthew, and may 

' J. R. Miller, Olimpses Through Life's Windows, 81. 
- C. N. Moody, Love's Lcag Campaign, 255. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 329 

refer to an incident of that dolorous procession in which the 
Master — Himself for a little while mastered by His foes — was 
struggling towards the appointed place of tragedy with the huge, 
rough cross upon His shoulder, ere some flickering of pity on the 
part of His guards impressed the more muscular Simon of Gyrene 
to bear the instrument of death along the road. We are invited 
to behold Jesus with gentle fortitude struggling to bear up under 
the cruel load, and even then, while the weight of the cross is 
pressing on His worn and sensitive frame, uttering the precept 
which had in that moment illustration so terrible : " If any man 
would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, 
and follow me." 

The disciple was to be as his Master, the servant was to be as 
his Lord ; but the Master was to be a crucified Master ; the Lord 
was to be not merely nailed to the tree, He was to hear His cross 
to the place of execution. And which of them all could have fore- 
seen that awful end ? Which of them could have guessed that 
the degrading punishment, reserved for the basest criminals, 
would have been assigned to the pure and sinless Jesus ? Which 
of them could have thought that against this humble working- 
man Prophet the power of Kome would accomplish that which 
His own nation could not do ? Which of them who had believed 
it possible that He would die upon the cross could have realized 
that, faint and weary with suffering, He Himself would bear His 
cross on the road to Calvary, till He could bear it no longer ? 

^ Last night I had another mother's meeting for the mothers 
of the Free Kindergarten. This time I gave a magic-lantern 
show. 1 was the showman. The poor, ignorant women sat there 
bewildered ; they had never seen a piano, and many of them had 
never been close to a foreigner before. I showed them about a 
hundred slides, explained through an interpreter until I was 
hoarse, gesticulated and orated to no purpose. They remained 
silent, stolid. By and by there was a stir, heads were raised 
and necks craned. A sudden interest swept over the room. I 
followed their gaze, and saw on the sheet the picture of Christ 
toiling up the mountain under the burden of the cross. ' The 
story was new and strange to them, but the fact was as old as life 
itself. At last they had found something that touched their own 
lives and brought the quick tears of sympathy to their eyes.* 
' The Lady of the Decoration, 107. 


3. Christ appeals to the will. " If a man wills to come after 
me." The cross must be taken up consciously, deliberately, 
sympathetically. The sacrifice we see in nature is unconscious. 
When the outer row of petals is sacrificed to the welfare of the 
guelder rose, the petals are unaware of their immolation ; when 
the bracts wither which have cradled the young leaves of the tree, 
they perish without any sense of martyrdom. In all their sacri- 
ficial work the ant and wasp obey blind impulse. It is often little 
better in society. We suffer and die for others without realizing 
the fact. The thought of the genius, the statesman, the physician, 
and the nurse is often almost entirely self-regarding ; they really 
suffer for the commonwealth without either consciousness or 
intention. The superior civilization also suffers for the inferior 
unsympathetically. The bee is a self-centred creature ; when it 
visits a flower it does not think of adorning the plant, of filling 
the air with sweetness, of delighting human eyes ; it thinks only 
of getting a living, of enjoying itself ; yet all the while, unknown 
to itself, it conveys the pollen which secures the perfection and 
perpetuity of a thousand flowers. So the European visiting India, 
Africa, or China does not always realize the larger mission he 
is fulfilling — advancing civilization by sacrifice. The scientist 
explores strange lands for knowledge, the soldier for glory, the 
trader for gold, the emigrant for bread ; and yet, all unwittingly, 
above and beyond their immediate purpose, they impart to the 
strange regions they penetrate the ideas and qualities of a higher 

In Christ the principle of self-denial became conscious, 
voluntary, and delightful. He entered into the work of redemp- 
tion with clearest knowledge, entire sympathy, absolute willing- 
ness, and overflowing love. From all His doing and suffering for 
our salvation come freedom, readiness, and joyfulness. His true 
disciples share His spirit of intelligent self-sacrifice : consciously, 
willingly, lovingly, they serve the world and one another. Self- 
immolation, which is unconscious in the brute, which dimly 
awakes to the knowledge of itself in reflective humanity, realizes 
itself lucidly and joyously in the light, love, and liberty of Christ. 
"Lo, I come to do thy will, God." "I delight to do thy 
will, my God." Such was the spirit and language of the 
Master in the hour of Gethsemane, in the presence of Calvary. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 331 

The disciple must not rest until he attains something of the same 
conscious surrender and joy. 

^ Phillips Brooks reminds us that the sacrifice of old was 
offered to the sound of the trumpets with joy, and there ought to 
he a sort of joy — a real joy — about self-sacrifice in bearing the 
cross. The pictures of our Lord on the cross, the earliest repre- 
sentations, were not like later ones ; they were of a victorious 
figure in the prime of life, with no nails through His hands and 
feet, with an upright head, and a look of joyful self-sacrifice. And 
that is what we must aim at : we must bear the cross joyfully ; 
" take up " the cross — it makes all the difference — lying down 
under it is one thing, taking it up is another. Take it up 
bravely, joyfully, cheerfully, and you will find the cross com- 
paratively easy to bear.^ 

But if Himself He come to thee, and stand 
Beside thee, gazing down on thee with eyes 
That smile and suffer, that will smite thy heart, 
With their own pity, to a passionate peace; 
And reach to thee Himself the Holy Cup 
(With all its wreathen stems of passion-flowers 
And quivering sparkles of the ruby stars). 
Pallid and royal, saying, " Drink with Me," 
Wilt thou refuse ? Nay, not for Paradise ! ^ 

4. Discipleship demands perseverance. " Let him follow me." 
There is no discharge in this service. It is a lifelong compact. 
The disciple must follow the Master to the last limit of self-denial 
and cross-bearing. But the Master lives to help us to be and to 
do what He shows in His own life is the highest of all goodness 
and nobleness. So near does He keep to us in His indwelling 
Presence that He wishes to strengthen us to " walk even as he 
walked" (1 John ii. 6). We are to feel that though we cannot 
see Him with our bodily eyes, yet there is no such living Power 
in the universe as He is ; and as we continue to ponder His life 
and sufferings we shall seem to see Him standing out before our 
hearts "full of grace and truth," and shall become gradually 
transformed into His likeness so as to be fitted for living with 
Him through eternity in His unveiled vision, and for engaging in 
His sinless service. 

1 A. F. W. Ingram, Joy in God, 178. 
" H. E. Hamilton King. 


' ^ It is easy to take up one's cross and stand ; easier still to 
fold it in the arms and lie down ; but to carry it about — that is the 
hard thing. All pain shuns locomotion. It is adverse to collision, 
adverse to contact, adverse to movement. It craves to nurse its 
own bitterness; it longs to be alone. Its burden is never so 
heavy as when the bell rings for daily toil. The waters of 
Marah seek repose. If I could only rest under my cloud I might 
endure; but the command is too much for me — "Go, work 
to-day in my vineyard." If I could go without my cross, it 
would be something; but I cannot. I can no more escape 
from it than I can escape my own shadow. It clings to 
me with that attraction which repulsion sometimes gives. It 
says, "Whither thou goest, I wUl go; and where thou lodgest, 
I will lodge." 1 

^ The followers of Christ are not as Frederick the Great, who 
in the midst of the Seven Years' War wrote thus : " Happy the 
moment when I took to training myself in philosophy ! There is 
nothing else that can sustain the soul in a situation like mine." 
This same Frederick, three years later, wrote that it was hard for 
man to bear what he endured : " My philosophy is worn out by 
suffering," he confessed ; " I am no saint, like those of whom we 
read in the legends ; and I will own that I should die content if 
only I could first inflict a portion of the misery which I endure." 
But Charity never faileth. When Christians grow weary of their 
efforts, when they are tempted to give up their Christian service 
because of discouragements in the work, or because of rebuffs and 
unkindness from their fellow-workers, they remember what sort 
of Captain they follow, and what sort of strength has been 
vouchsafed to them.* 

^ Drawing his sword, Pizarro traced a line with it on the sand 
from east to west. Then, turning towards the south, "Friends 
and comrades ! " he said, " on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, 
the drenching storm, desertion, and death ; on this side, ease and 
pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches ; here, Panama and its 
poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. 
For my part, I go to the south." So saying he stepped across the 
line. He was followed by the brave pilot Euiz ; next by Pedro 
de Candia, a cavalier, born, as his name imports, in one of the 
isles of Greece. Eleven others successively crossed the line, thus 
intimating their willingness to abide the fortunes of their leader, 
for good or for evil. Fame, to quote the enthusiastic language 

' G. Matheson, Searchings in the Silence, 56. 

' 0. N. Moody, Love's Lang Campaign, 266. 

ST. MATTHEW xvi. 24 Zi3 

of an ancient chronicler, has commemorated the names of this 
little band, " who thus, in the face of difficulties unexampled in 
history, with death rather than riches for their reward, preferred 
it all to abandoning their honour, and stood firm by their leader 
as an example of loyalty to future ages." ^ 

' W. H. Prescott, The Conquest of Peru, bk. ii. chap. iv. 

The Transfiguration. 



Bruce (A. B.), The Training of the Twehje, 191. 

Campbell (W. M.), Foot-Prints of Christ, 182. 

Curling (E.), The Transfiguration, 1. 

Deshon (G.), Sermons for the Ecclesiastical Year, 138. 

Gray (W. A.), The Shadow of the Hand, 217. 

Gregg (D.), Our Best Moods, 73. 

Gunsaulus (F. W.), The Transfiguration of Christ, 93. 

Jeffrey (R. T.), Visits to Calvary, 89. 

Jones (J. D.), The Gospel of Grace, 189. 

Kingsley (C), Village, Town, and Country Sermons, 207. 

Nixon (W.), Christ All and in All, 246. 

Eitchie (D. L.), Peace the Umpire, 146. 

Vernon (E. T.), The Holy Mount, 13. 

Waugh (T.), Mount and Multitude, 117. 

Wolston (W. T. P.), Night Scenes of Scripture, 46. 

Christian Age, xlii. 290 (F. G. MoKeever). 

Christian World Pulpit, liv. 182 (R. Thomas) ; Iv. 32 (H. S. Holland) ; 

lix. 364 (G. C. Morgan); Ixxii. 154 (G. A. J. Ross); Ixxvi. 85 

(R. a Parsons). 


The Transfiguration. 

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John 
his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart : and he was 
transfigured before them : and his face did shine as the sun, and his 
garments became white as the light. — Matt. xvii. i, 2. 

1. Very little is said in Scripture concerning the glory and majesty 
of Christ. A stranger reading the Bible, especially the New 
Testament, would be impressed far more with the majesty of the 
Messiah's character, and the glory of His moral qualities, than 
with anything else. This, undoubtedly, was part of the Divine 
plan ; for the search of men was rather for tokens of material 
glory than for signs of moral excellence. His coming was 
principally for the display of the latter, and such signs as might 
have appealed to the desire of the men whose only conception of 
glory had come to be that of manifested splendour were denied. 
The word of the prophet spoken in another connexion had a 
supreme fulfilment in the Person of Jesus, " There was the hiding 
of his power." Consequently, that which arrests one in the 
study of the life of Christ is not outward magnificence, not 
pageantry or pomp, but something more wonderful, and without 
which mere outward pageantry and pomp would be nothing worth, 
even His moral glory. It is the beauty of His character that 
lays hold upon the inmost spirit, and commands its admiration. 
To see the Christ in the glories of His character is to lie prostrate 
before Him in adoration. 

2. Yet, while the glory of His power is hidden, and the radiant 
splendours of His person are veiled, occasionally during His so- 
journ upon the earth they flashed into prominence. Here upon 
the mount, before the eyes of the disciples, there flamed forth the 
magnificence and the majesty of Him who, in order that the 
weakest and most trembling might hold intercourse with Him, 
had veiled these splendours behind the human. 

ST. MATT. — 22 


^ To any one who remembers who Jesus Christ is, and what 
He has been and will be to men, no incident of His life is more 
credible. In all likelihood Jesus was often transfigured in His 
nights of lonely prayer, although there were no eyes to see Him. 
No experience set down in the Gospels more entirely becomes the 
Lord of glory. To one who walked with G-od and spoke face to 
face with Him as a child to a father, round whom God's angels 
continually hovered, on whom the thoughts of all God's saints 
were set, it is only natural that the fashion of His face should 
alter, His raiment become as white as snow, and men of God 
commune with Him.^ 

Let us look at — 

I. The Setting of the Transfiguration. 
IL Its Significance. 
III. Its Practical Suggestions. 

The Setting of the Teansfigueation. 

1. " After six days," — or, as Luke in less definite language 
says, " About eight days after these sayings," — " he bringeth them 
up into a high mountain apart." The point of time at which the 
Transfiguration occurred is given by all the three Synoptists, and 
what they tell us is that at a definite point of time in the progress 
of His public ministry the Lord meditated deeply upon His coming 
death, and sought to familiarize His disciples with the idea of 
His atoning death, and to get some sympathy from them in 
regard to the idea of that death. When He broke the news of 
it to them first, Peter resisted the idea, saying, " Be it far from 
thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee," and with pain and 
distress Jesus saw that Peter was at this time out of sympathy 
with the idea of His suffering for him. Six days passed. We do 
not know how these six days were filled up. It may be that they 
were filled up by patient conversation between our Lord and His 
disciples as to the place which this atoning death of His should 
occupy in the whole scheme of God's dealings with men. It may 
be that He set forth to them the relation of the previous ettbrts 
of God for men, symbolized by the life-work of Moses and Elijah. 
' W. M. Glow, 2'he Secret of the Lord, 167. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 339 

Fot all we know, they may have had this work of Moses and 
Elijah fully in their minds during that week. On the other hand, 
it may have been a week of absohrte silence between our Lord 
and His disciples, when our Lord was, so to say, alienated from 
His very own, because they could not understand. We read of 
His marvelling, being astonished at their incapacity to sympathize 
with this idea of His death. In any case, it was certainly for 
relief, for sympathy, for reassurance, and for reconsecration of 
Himself to the atoning work which He was going out to do, it 
was for these ends that the Lord Jesus went up to this hill to 
hold fellowship with His Father. 

2. Who were His companions in that mysterious hour ? At the 
foot of whatever peak of Hermon He ascended, He left nine 
of the Twelve in waiting. There, unattended by any save the 
chosen three, he took His twilight way up the steep. Peter, 
James, and John, "the three most receptive of Him and most 
representative of His Church," who had stood with Him in the 
solemn presence of death in the house of Jairus, who will be with 
Him in the sorrows of Gethsemane, would Jesus have with Him 
amid the glories of the Transfiguration. Peter must be there, 
for Peter will hereafter stand in many a place where only the 
recollection of the voice from the cloud will strengthen his waver- 
ing courage. When the demon of fear would possess his soul, or 
the spirit of impetuosity thwart the Master's purposes ; when he 
would stand up to press home upon the consciences of his fellow- 
countrymen the claims of his crucified Lord, or resist the persecu- 
tions of some of them, or rebuke avarice, shame, and hypocrisy ; 
when he must needs withstand fanaticism in the Church, comfort 
believers in trial, enforce their practical duties, warn them against 
temptation or remove their doubts, he will need the experience of 
that hallowed night when he was an " eye-witness " of his Lord's 
majesty. James must be there, for the recollection of those scenes 
will cool his intolerant spirit, temper his ambition, comfort him 
in Gethsemane, give perseverance in prayer, and nerve his faith 
as he lays his head upon Herod's block. John must be there, 
for Jesus, like all mankind, must needs have near Him in His 
most sacred moments the one nearest His heart. Love will be 
strengthened by conviction, and these together will stay John's 


hasty flight from the garden, enable him to brook the frowns of 
the Sanhedrin, strengthen his heart that it may not break under 
the shadow of the cross, and give clearness of vision to recognize 
his risen Lord as His voice descends from the opening heavens 
into the quarries of Patmos ; and when, an old man, he shall sit 
down pen in hand to tell the world that Jesus was Divine, then 
he will remember, " we beheld his glory." 

3. "He bringeth them up into a high mountain apart." It 
is not to be supposed that a mountain was absolutely necessary 
for such an event as the Transfiguration, but it is to be con- 
ceded that no other place could have been equally appropriate. 
The voice from heaven had been heard by the Jordan, at the 
Baptism ; an angel had appeared to Zacharias in the Temple ; but 
neither in the Temple with all its sacred associations, nor by the 
Jordan, the historic river of the nation, would a spot have been 
found more appropriate for the occasion than that which was 
chosen, " a high mountain." Our Lord, apparently, was at home 
among the everlasting hills; they were to Him a mighty stair- 
case that reached to the throne of God. Never did the tempter 
make a greater mistake than when he supposed he could lay a 
snare for Jesus on the top of an exceeding high mountain. There 
the Saviour was more invulnerable than anywhere else on earth. 
Among the hills Jesus triumphed over the tempter ; among them 
He made known the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven to men ; there 
He sought communion with God ; and there He was transfigured. 

^ Several times the writer has climbed to the loftiest peak of 
one of the grandest of our Scottish mountains, on each occasion 
accompanied by a different companion, and always without 
exception his companion has exclaimed, after some minutes of 
silence on the summit. Let us sing a psalm of praise. The writer's 
own feeling was rather, Let us pray, or. Let us speak, the con- 
sciousness of the Divine presence being stronger than ever else- 
where experienced. Was this feeling shared by our Lord ? 
Probably it was. He is found so frequently up the mountain. 
And it is clear that His desire was not merely to get away from 
the world and its disturbing influence, but to get near to the 
Father. Amidst the grand majestic surroundings of nature. He 
found Himself near God, and all night, with the silent stars over- 
head. He held communion with the Father.^ 

' E. T. Vernon, Tfte Holy Mount, 37. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 341 

11 One cannot but ask what was the " high mountain " on 
which six days from the time of Peter's confession, whilst still 
in this region [of Csesarea Philippi], " he was transfigured " before 
His three disciples ? It is impossible to look up from the plain 
to the towering peaks of Hermon, almost the only mountain which 
deserves the name in Palestine, and one of whose ancient titles 
was derived from this circumstance, and not be struck with its 
appropriateness to the scene. The fact of its rising high above all 
the other hills of Palestine, and of its setting the last limit to the 
wanderings of Him who was sent only to the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel, falls in with the supposition which the words 
inevitably force upon us. The sacredness of Hermon in the eyes 
of the surrounding tribes may well have fitted it for the purpose, 
even if it did not give it the name, of " the Holy Mountain." High 
up on its southern slopes there must be many a point where the 
disciples could be taken " apart by themselves." Even the tran- 
sient comparison of the celestial splendour with the snow, where 
alone it could be seen in Palestine, should not, perhaps, be wholly 
overlooked. At any rate, the remote heights above the sources 
of the Jordan witnessed the moment when. His work in His own 
peculiar sphere being ended, He set His face for the last time " to 
go up to Jerusalem." ^ 

^ A strong Christian tradition dating from the fourth century 
makes Tabor the scene of our Lord's Transfiguration. It was 
probably natural that this event should become connected with 
the most conspicuous mountain of Galilee, and as early as the 
sixth century three churches had been built to commemorate the 
three tabernacles which Peter proposed to erect. But at this 
particular period Tabor was covered with houses, and therefore 
could not correctly be described as " apart " (Matt. xvii. 1). Then 
again, just before His Transfiguration, Jesus was far away from 
Tabor, in the neighbourhood of Hermon.^ 

4. We are told by St. Luke that they went up " to pray." It 
seems most natural to accept this statement not only as correct, 
but as a sufficient statement of the object our Saviour had in view. 
The thought of transfiguration may not have been in His mind at 
all. Here, as always, He was guided by the will of His Father in 
heaven ; and it is not necessary to suppose that to His human 
mind that will was tnade known earlier than the occasion required. 
We are not told that He went up to be transfigured : we are told 

' A. P. Stanley, Simm cmd Palestme, 899. 

* A. W. Cooke, Palestme in Oeography and History, i. 132. 


that He went up to pray. It seems probable that the idea was 
to spend the night in prayer. We know that this was a not 
infrequent custom with Him ; and if ever there seemed a call for 
it, it must have been now, when about to begin that sorrowful 
journey which led to Calvary. "With this thought agree all the 
indications which suggest that it was evening when they ascended, 
night while they remained on the top, and morning when they 
came down. This, too, will account in the most natural manner 
for the drowsiness of the Apostles ; and the fact that their Lord 
felt none of it only proved how much more vivid was His realiza- 
tion of the awf ulness of the crisis than theirs was. We are to think 
of the four, then, as slowly and thoughtfully climbing the hill at 
eventide, carrying their abbas, or rugs, on which they would kneel 
for prayer, and which, if they needed rest, they would wrap round 
them, as is the Oriental custom. By the time they reached the 
top, night would have cast its veil of mystery on the grandeur of 
the mountains round about them, while snowy Hermon in the 
gloom would rise like a mighty giant to heaven, its summit " visited 
all night by troops of stars." Never before or since has there been 
such a prayer meeting on this earth of ours. 

Having gone up to pray, they would doubtless all kneel down 
together. As the night wore on, the three disciples, being ex- 
hausted, would wrap themselves in their rugs and go to sleep; 
while the Master, to whom sleep at such a time was unnatural, if 
not impossible, would continue in prayer. Can we suppose that 
that time of pleading was free from agony ? His soul had been 
stirred within Him when Peter tempted Him to turn aside from 
the path of the cross ; and may we not with reverence suppose 
that on that lonely hill-top, as later in the Garden, there might be 
in His heart the cry, "Father, if it be possible"? If only the 
way upward were open now ! Has not the Kingdom of God been 
preached in Judeea, in Samaria, in Galilee, away to the very 
borderlands ? and has not the Church been founded ? and has not 
authority been given to the Apostles? Is it, then, absolutely 
necessary to go back, back to Jerusalem, not to gain a triumph, but 
to accept the last humiliation and defeat ? There cannot but have 
been a great conflict of feeling ; and with all the determination to 
be obedient even unto death, there must have been a shrinking 
from the way of the cross, and a great longing for heaven and 

ST. MATTHEW xvit. t, 2 343 

home and the Father's welcome. The longing cannot be gratified ; 
it is not possible for the cup to pass from Him ; but just as later 
in Gethsemane there came an angel from heaven strengthening 
Him, so now His longing for heaven and home and the smile of 
His Father is gratified in the gladdening and strengthening ex- 
perience which followed His prayer — a foretaste of the heavenly 
glory, so vivid, so satisfying, that He will thenceforth be strong, 
for the joy that is set before Him, to endure the cross, despising 
the shame. For behold, as He prays, His face becomes radiant, 
the glory within shining through the veil of His mortal fiesh. 
We all know that this flesh of ours is more or less transparent, 
and that in moments of exaltation the faces of even ordinary men 
will shine as with a heavenly lustre. We need not wonder, then, 
that it should have been so with our Lord, only in an immeasur- 
ably higher degree: that His face should have shone even "as the 
sun"; and that, though He could not yet ascend to heaven, 
heaven's brightness should have descended on Him and wrapped 
Him round, so that even " his garments became white as the light." 

^ " And while he was praying, the appearance of his face 
underwent a change," says Luke; he alone preserving for us this 
vital fact of " prayer," of profound and deliberate absorption in 
the Divine Life, as the immediate cause of the transfigured bodily 
state. This change, this radiance, seemed to the astonished on- 
lookers to spread to the whole personality ; conferring upon it an 
enhancement and a splendour which the limited brains of those 
who saw could only translate into terms of light — " His clothing 
became white, and like the flashing lightning" — whiter, says 
Mark, with a touch of convincing realism, than any fuller can 
bleach it. Bound together by a community of expectation and 
personal devotion, and now in that state upon the verge of sleep 
in which the mind is peculiarly open to suggestion, it is not 
marvellous that this, to them conclusive and almost terrible, 
testimony of Messiahship should produce strange effects upon 
those who were looking on. In an atmosphere so highly charged 
with wonder and enthusiasm, the human brain is at a hopeless dis- 
advantage. Such concepts as it is able to manufacture from the 
amazing material poured in on it will take of necessity a symbolic 
form. In minds dominated by the influence of a personality of 
unique spiritual greatness, and full of imaj^es of those Old Testa- 
ment prophecies wbich seemed to be in course of actual fulfilment 
before their eyes, all the conditions were present for the produc- 


tion of a collective vision in which such images played a promi- 
nent part; bodying forth the ideas evoked in them by the 
spectacle of their Master's ecstasy. That Master, whose deep 
humanity had never failed them yet, whose strangest powers had 
always been evoked in response to the necessities of men, was 
now seen removed from them by a vast distance. Unconscious of 
their very existence, His whole being appeared to be absorbed in 
communion with another order, by them unseen.^ 

^ There is a height in prayer above communion. What shall 
I call it ? It may be named the prayer of surrender. Very few 
ever utter that prayer to its utmost syllable. Few ever really 
lay themselves, spirit and soul and body, on God's altar. We are 
always withholding something, keeping back from God some dear 
and cherished possession, some gift or talent or power, some love 
or pleasure or passion. We will not yield up some one dear and 
tightly held joy. Yet when we do pray this prayer we pass on to 
an experience which seals us with a seal that cannot be broken, 
to the service of God for ever. Then on the transparent mirror 
of the face the light leaps and flashes, and some of it abides. 
That is the secret of that heavenly and almost intolerable radiance 
on the face of Moses which men feared to look upon. He had 
come out of that most holy place and offered up his prayer of 
surrender in these solemn words, "But if not, blot out my name 
from thy book." That is why Stephen's face shone in the council. 
His clear and discerning mind saw his martyr death before him, 
and he yielded himself up to God's will. Could we have seen 
Paul's face when he heard God's words, " My grace is sufficient 
for thee," and meekly accepted God's will, we would have seen 
the sheen of the transfiguring light also upon it. He did not 
know whether he was " in the body " or " out of it." That is why 
Christ's face shone as He prayed. And that is how our faces also 
shall be transfigured.^ 

5. With what overwhelming awe must these men have looked 

upon their Master ! They had become familiar with Him as with 

a man sharing their nature. His face lined with the furrows of 

care. His visage sorrowfully marred, beautiful, yea, passing 

beautiful, and yet always overshadowed with the signs of sorrow. 

As they looked up from their bewildered sleep in the darkness of 

the night, they beheld Him white as the light, His raiment 

glistening as with the radiance of the snow-capped peaks behind 

1 Evelyn Underhill, The Mystic Way, 118. 
' W. M. Clow, Tlie Secret of the Lord, 182. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 345 

Him, His whole Person standing out in clear relief against the 
dark background, the lightning flashing upon the bosom of the 
night. Long years after, Peter, writing of the vision, said, " We 
were eyewitnesses of his majesty." The word there translated 
" majesty " occurs only three times in Scripture. Once it is trans- 
lated " mighty power,'' once " magnificence," and once " majesty." 
The thought it suggests is that of splendour, of overwhelming beauty 
and glory, and that which arrests and subdues the mind to the point 
of adoration and worship ; and Peter, looking back to the splendours 
of that night scene, wrote, " We were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 

^ The Transfiguration is the key-word of the Incarnation. 
Jesus Christ went up into a mountain to reveal to the chosen 
three the secret of the Kingdom. Before they ever tasted death 
they were to see the Kingdom come on earth. A moment was to 
sweep over them when the hidden workings were to be laid bare 
to them of that action which should hereafter perpetuate the 
tabernacling of God among men. Alas ! their eyes were heavy at 
the time, and their wits were clouded, and they were dazed by the 
excess of glory ! They wist not what they saw or said. But yet 
one swift glance they won before the cloud enveloped them, and 
in that glance they caught sight of Jesus transfigured. Trans- 
figured ! It was the Jesus whom they knew, the same, and not 
another. Everything that constituted His identity in face and 
form was there, unobliterated — only, it was raised to a new power, 
it was possessed by unanticipated capacities. A Higher Force had 
smitten into it, had released itself through it, so that it shone and 
glowed. It was uplifted, changed, yet the same, burning, yet never 
consumed. The body showed itself, not as unnaturalized, but as 
the true and proper organ of the forces which should reveal 
themselves through it. It was made clear that its natural con- 
struction adapted it to become the vehicle of the invading Spirit : 
it finds its own life in becoming transfigured.^ 

^ The Transfiguration had a purpose also in relation to the 
disciples. It was designed to reconcile them to the incredible and 
repulsive idea of Messiah's sufi^erings by reveaUng to them the 
glories that should follow. What did they hear as they listened 
to the converse betwixt those two glorified saints who bore the 
greatest names on Israel's roll of honour? They heard them 
talking of " the decease," or, as it is in Greek, " the exodus, which 
he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." In the judgment of 
Moses and Elijah that issue, which seemed to the disciples an in- 
' Canon Scott HoUand. 


tolerable ignominy and a crushing disaster, was a splendid triumph, 
like the mighty deliverance which God had wrought for Israel 
when He brought her by the hand of Moses out of the land of 
bondage and made her a free nation. It is very significant that 
in the copies of St. Luke's Gospel which were in use in St. 
Chrysostom's day, this sentence ran : " They spake of the glory 
which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." And such was 
the conception of her Lord's sufferings which was by and by 
revealed to the Church. " We behold Jesus," it is written in the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, "by reason of the suffering of death 
crowned with glory and honour." ^ 

He taketh us 

On a high mountain, nor forsaketh us, 

But turneth round upon us, glistening 

In face and raiment, as He were a King. 

In converse we discover at His side 

Moses, Elias. ... He is glorified. 

The Son of God : and Peter would abide 

Forever with these three, and prays to rear 

Three tabernacles. And the light grows drear. 

Some sin is on us that no wise we wist; 

We are closed up as in God's very fist; 

We cannot see : only there floats above, 

Eumbling and murmuring as an angry love, 

Some element in havoc that doth press 

Against the idle word that Peter said. 

I know not by what stroke, 

Beneath that awful cloak, 

Elias and the Law-giver are brought 

To nothingness in the Eternal Thought: 

For presently we are allowed. 

Through adumbrations of the cloud, 

To hear the Father's Voice in its caress. 
As if from Chaos sped 
Toward that beloved Head — 

Jealous and watered as of rain-drop tears 
That Voice appears 

In majesty on the cloud's breaking rim : 

" Lo, this is my beloved Son ; hear Him ! " 

The Lord is glorified; we see 

His Body as in glory it will be — 
Nothing it lacks 

Save of His Wounds the lovely tracks, 
' D. Smith, The Days of His Flesh, 274. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 347 

I, John, who lay upon His bosom, I 

Must testify 
I never saw Him — now 
I see Him in the Father and rejoice: 
He standeth meek amid His snows, 

Flushed as a rose, 
For we have heard that Voice. 
How maiden in humility His brow ! 
Almost He whispereth " No word of this ! 
It is our secret: I should take amiss 
That of this hour one word be said, 
Peter, till I am risen from the dead." 
And, having spoken. He looks back on me, 
And in an instant my theology 
Is given; and I know the Word is God.^ 


The Significance of the Transfigueation. 

" He was transfigured before them." It was Tindale who first 
used this word to describe the change that took place, and we 
have adhered to it ever since. It is the best English word we 
have to explain the original but not the most exact. "Trans- 
formed" is more literal, while "metamorphosed" is simply the 
Greek word anglicized, but it is too foreign and cumbrous. The 
word "changed," which is the equivalent for the same word in 
Corinthians, is too weak. We do not have a word that is exactly 
suitable and sufficient. Moreover, it is clear that the evangelists 
felt themselves at a loss adequately to describe the glory that 
covered their Lord at that supreme hour. One evangelist says, 
" The fashion of his countenance was altered " — " became other " as 
the word may be literally translated ; while another says " it did 
shine as the sun," and we understand that the face shone with a 
radiance exquisitely bright. And not the face only ; the whole 
body apparently became radiant with light, so that it shone 
through the garments, making them appear " white as the light." 
St. Mark finds his illustration on the spot, " exceeding white as 
snow." St. Luke goes further and finds his semblance in the 

' Michael Field, Mystic Tries, 20. 


^ It ia possible that this radiance may be related to the so- 
called aura, which the abnormally extended vision of many 
"psychics" perceives as a luminous cloud of greater or less 
brilliance surrounding the human body; which varies in extent 
and intensity with the vitality of the individual, and which they 
often report as shining with a white or golden glory about those 
who live an exceptionally holy life. This phenomenon, once 
dismissed as a patent absurdity by all " rational " persons, is now 
receiving the serious attention of physicians and psychologists ; and 
it is well within the range of possibilities that the next generation 
of scholars will find it no more " supernatural " than radio-activity 
or the wireless telegraph. It is one of the best attested of the 
abnormal phenomena connected with the mystic type : the lives 
of the saints providing us with .examples of it which range from 
the great and luminous glory to a slight enhancement of person- 
ality under the stress of spiritual joy.^ 

1. If we imagine that the sun-like splendour of our Lord's 
countenance and the snow-like whiteness of His raiment were but 
a reflection of the glory of heaven, we shall miss the significance 
of the Transfiguration. There was a manifestation of heavenly 
glory — the bright cloud overshadowed them — but that was not 
till after the glory so graphically described in the narrative had 
shown itself in our Lord's face and raiment. What the disciples 
saw was the bright shining of Christ's own spirit, which, asserting 
itself over flesh and raiment, made the one to shine as the sun 
and the other to glisten like the driven snow. It was Jlis glory 
the disciples saw; the glory which belonged to His pure and 
perfect character, and which belongs in a greater or less degree to 
every one who is changed into the same image. For " we all, with 
open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," may be 
" changed into the same image from glory to glory." 

^ We are told that Francis of Assisi, when absorbed in prayer, 
" became changed almost into another man " ; and once at least 
was " beheld praying by night, his bands stretched out after the 
manner of a cross, his whole body uplifted from the earth and 
wrapt in a shining cloud as though the wondrous illumination of 
the body were a witness to the wondrous enlightenment of his 
mind." The sympathetic vision of her closest companions saw 
Teresa's personality, when she was writing her great mystical 
works, so changed and exalted that it seemed to them tliat her 

' Erelyn Underbill, TJie Mystic Way, 120. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 349 

countenance shone with a supernatural light. Again, St. Catherine 
of Bologna, always pale on account of her chronic ill-health, was 
seen by her sisters in choir with a " shining, rosy countenance 
radiant like light " : and we are told of St. Catherine of Genoa, 
that when she came forth from her hiding-place after ecstasy 
" her face was rosy as it might be a cherub's : and it seemed as if 
she might have said. Who shall separate me from the love of 
God ? " In such reports we seem to see the germ of that experi- 
ence which lies at the root of the story of the Transfiguration of 
Christ. As Moses came down with shining face from the mountain, 
so these turn towards the temporal order a countenance that is 
irradiated by the reflection of the Uncreated Light.^ 

2. The Transfiguration of Jesus was the natural consummation 
of His human life, the natural issue of all that had preceded it. 
Born into the world by the Holy Spirit, He had lived a life linked 
to, and yet separated from, humanity; linked to it in all the 
essential facts of its nature, separate from it in its sin, both as a 
principle and as an activity. He had taken His way from His first 
outlook upon life as a human being, a babe in His mother's arms, 
through the years of childhood and growth, through all the 
temptation and testing of manhood, and through the severer 
temptation of public ministry, and here, at last, that humanity, 
perfect in creation, perfect through probation, was perfected in 
glory. The life of Jesus was bound to reach this point of trans- 
figuration. It could do no other. In Jesus of Nazareth there 
was the perfect unfolding before Heaven and before men of the 
Divine intention as to the process of human life. Beginning in 
weakness and limitation, passing through difficulties and tempta- 
tion, gaining perpetual victory over temptation by abiding only, 
at all times and under all circumstances, in the will of God. At 
last, all the testing being ended, the life passed into the presence 
of God Himself, and into the light of heaven, not through the 
gate of death, but through the painless and glorious process of 
transfiguration. The Transfiguration of Jesus was the outcome of 
His unceasing victory in every hour of temptation. The garrison 
of His life had been kept against every attack of the foe ; no room 
had been found in any avenue of His being, or in all the circle of 
His manhood, for anything contrary to the will of God. His life 
' Evelyn Underhill, The Mystic Way, 120. 


was a perfect harmony, and the unceasing burden of its music was 
the goodness, the perfectness, and acceptableness of the will of 

^ Eeverently take a flower as an illustration of the process, 
watching it in its progress from seedling to perfect blossoming. 
The blossom rested in the seed in potentiality and possibility. 
Take a seed and hold it in the hand — strange little seed, without 
beauty, the very embodiment of weakness. But lying within that 
husk in which the human eye detects no line of beauty or grace, no 
gleam or flash of glory, there lie the gorgeous colours and magnifi- 
cent flower itself. From that seed through processes of law, plant 
and bud proceed, until at last the perfect blossom is formed. God's 
humanity has blossomed once in the course of the ages, and that 
transfigured man upon the holy mount, flashing in the splendour 
of a light like the sun, glistering with the glory of a whiteness 
like that of the snow, and flaming with the magnificent beauty of 
the lightning that flashes its radiance upon the darkness, that was 
God's perfect man. That was the realization of the thought that 
was in the mind of God when He said, " Let us make man in our 
image." ^ 

3. The Transfiguration marked Christ's triumph over tempta- 
tion. On the mount He was again tempted to refuse the cross, to 
escape His death and His shame, and to pass with Moses and 
Elijah into that glory which He had with the Father before the 
world was. But in that high hour He renounced the glory ; He 
accepted the cup, and turned His face to Calvary. 

It is the renunciation of that glory on the hill-top that is the 
moral wonder of this great incident. Conceive of the wonderful 
position which our Lord occupied at the time of this Transfigura- 
tion. He had risen to the climax; He had transmuted the 
innocence of childhood into the holiness of manhood. He had 
uniformly resisted sin, its nearest approaches to His Spirit, and 
He rose to the completeness of manhood at the age of thirty-three, 
shall we say, absolutely unstained by sin. If ever there was a 
case in which the old law, " Do this and thou shalt live," should 
come into play, it was now. He had kept the law of God. It was 
His right to enter into the glory and blessedness of immortality 
without death, its pains and its humiliations. And as He offered 
Himself with the completeness of His life to God, offered Himself 

' 6. Campbell Morgan. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 351 

there on the Mount of Transfiguration, the choice appears to have 
been given to Him. The glory of the higher mode of existence 
budded upon His person, but, had He entered heaven then, He 
must have entered it alone, and the golden gates must have closed 
upon Him. And so, as a French writer says, He turned His back 
on the arch of triumph, and resolutely decided upon the pathway 
of shadows and of grief that led to glory through the grave. 

And why ? Because He loved men, and could not even go to 
heaven alone. Love, says the Song of Solomon, is stronger than 
death ; but the Transfiguration proves that it is stronger than 
something which is stronger than death itself — stronger than 
heaven and the attractions of heaven for a heavenly mind. 
That was the renunciation of the Christ. 

^ I read a wonderful story about Buddha, which is a strange 
adumbration of this experience of our Lord. It is said that when 
Buddha, before he was styled the enlightened one, was sitting at the 
base of the tree of meditation, there passed before him in proces- 
sion temptations of various sorts. First temptations of the flesh, 
and Gautama Buddha put these aside. Then temptations of the 
mind, and Buddha put these aside. Then various temptations of 
the spirit, and Buddha put these aside. And then came a subtle 
temptation. A temptress whispered in his ear, " Thou hast now 
overcome all the temptations ; enter into Nirvana now " — Nirvana 
being the Buddhist heaven. And Buddha very nearly gave way, 
the legend says. But lo ! as he sat at the base of the tree, he 
heard a rustling in the leaves of the tree above him. And the 
rustling of the leaves was caused by the agitation of those little 
creatures of God that crept amongst the leaves, who were looking 
forward, says the legend, to being saved throug^i Buddha ; but if 
he escaped now into Nirvana by himself they would be left un- 
saved ; and the tree rustled with the agitation of the little 
creatures ; and Buddha was recalled, and he refused the tempta- 
tion to enter Nirvana then.^ 

If Among the many ways in which we miss the help and hold 
of Scripture, none is more subtle than our habib of supposing that, 
even as man, Christ was free from the Fear of Death. How 
could He then have been tempted as we are ? since among all the 
trials of the earth, none spring from the dust more terrible than 
that Fear. It had to be borne by Him, indeed, in a unity, which 
we can never comprehend, with the foreknowledge of victory, — as 
His sorrow for Lazarus, with the consciousness of the power to 
' G. A. Johnston Eoss. 


restore him ; but it had to be borne, and that in its full earthly 
terror ; and the presence of it is surely marked for us enough by 
the rising of those two at His side. When, in the desert, He was 
girding Himself for the work of life, angels of life came and 
ministered unto Him ; now in the fair world, when He is girding 
Himself for the work of death, the ministrants come to Him from 
the grave. But from the grave conquered. One, from that tomb 
under Abarim, which His own hand had sealed so long ago ; the 
other, from the rest into which he had entered, without seeing 
corruption. There stood by Him Moses and Elias, and spake of 
His decease. Then, when the prayer is ended, the task accepted, 
first, since the star paused over Him at Bethlehem, the full glory 
falls upon Him from heaven, and the testimony is borne to His 
everlasting Sonship and power. " Hear ye him." ^ 

4. The Transfiguration was the preparation for the cross ; it 
was the vision of the crown before the fight. The cross was set 
up on the holy mount because it was the Divine purpose from 
the first to cover the cross with glory. Only eight days have 
passed since first it was announced to men that the Son of God 
should be crucified. Already it is seen from the attitude of the 
disciples in general and Peter in particular that the cross will be 
an offence unto men. Without delay this mistaken notion, so far 
as these disciples are concerned, must be corrected. It must not 
be allowed to continue unchecked. It is necessary that those who 
are being trained to be the first preachers of the cross should not 
remain long or altogether under a misapprehension as to its 
significance. They must be given to understand that it is not 
without a high purpose, and though they may not yet understand 
much, their mind must be opened to perceive that somehow there 
is a hidden glory in what seems only a shame and a curse. Jesus 
too, in this hour of final acquiescence in His destiny, must, for 
the sake of His faith and courage, see something of the honour 
as well as feel somewhat of the sorrow of His cross. And so 
Calvary is anticipated and transfigured on the holy mount. We 
see it all as they speak of His decease. Jesus is in the midst 
bearing His cross. But the visage which will afterwards be 
" marred more than any man " now shines with the splendour of 
the sun ; the raiment that will be gambled for glistens like the 
enow. The malefactors are displaced, and instead we find Moses 
* Euskin, Modern PaiiUert, iy. chap. xx. § 49. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i. 2 353 

and Elijah who, themselves covered with glory, adorn the cross. 
Instead of the darkness and the cry of desertion, " My God, my 
God, why hast thou forsaken me ? " there is the bright cloud and 
the approving voice of the Heavenly Father, " This is my beloved 
Son, in whom I am well pleased." It is a marvellous and striking 
situation; the cross, while only eight days old in its earthly 
history, set up and surrounded by a wealth of highest glory. 

1J The Transfiguration was designed, in the first instance, to 
strengthen Jesus and nerve Him for the dread ordeal which 
awaited Him. It was as though the veil had been drawn aside 
and the eternal world for a little space disclosed to His view. It 
was like a vision of home to the exile, like a foretaste of rest to 
the weary traveller. He was granted a glimpse of the glory 
which He had resigned that He might tabernacle among the 
children of men, winning redemption for them, and an earnest 
likewise of the joy that was set before Him. Prom the vantage- 
ground of the Mount of Transfiguration He descried the consum- 
mation which awaited Him beyond the Hill of Calvary. Nor was 
that the only consolation which was vouchsafed to Him. His 
heart had been grieved by the dulness of the twelve, the folly of 
the multitude, and the hostility of the rulers, and in that tran- 
scendent hour it was revealed to Him how His work was viewed 
by God and the glorified saints. Though He stood alone on 
earth, misunderstood, forsaken, and persecuted. He had Heaven's 
sympathy and approval.^ 

^ A great artist has represented the crown of life which Christ 
holds out to men as a circlet of gold with another circlet of 
thorns intertwined. The idea symbolized is true to fact. Jesus 
Himself experienced it. Here on the mount He is being crowned 
with glory ; it is a moment of honour and joy, a season to be pro- 
longed and enjoyed without anything intervening, but He still stands 
upon the earth, and within the gold there is the thorn which yet 
will tear and bruise His holy brow. " They spake of his decease." ^ 


The Peactical Suggestions of the Teansfiguhation. 

In one sense the Transfiguration of Christ rises into a plane 
of thought ^nd feeling beyond our power to enter. No other son 

» D. Smith, The Days of His Mesh, 272. 
» E. T. Vernon, The Holy Mount, 83. 
ST. MAIT. — 23 


of man was, or ever shall be, transfigured as was the Lord. No 
other ever reached manhood without a sting of memory or a 
qualm of regret. No other ever kept the faith with a clear vision 
and an unbroken victory. No other ever lived under the sure 
and constant sense that this world was but his Father's footstool, 
and the world unseen his Father's house. Yet we must not forget 
that the Transfiguration was a wholly human experience. It was 
as human as His hunger, or His weariness, or the accents of His 
voice in prayer, or His trembling under temptation. Because it 
is so entirely human it is possible for us to understand its signifi- 
cance, to pass through it each in his own measure, and to enter 
into its felicity and reward. 

^ The Transfiguration is not an impressive spectacle arranged 
for the Apostles, but a peep into the awful background behind 
life. Let me use a simple parable: imagine a man who had a 
friend whom he greatly admired and loved, and suppose him to 
be talking with his friend, who suddenly excuses himself on the 
plea of an engagement, and goes out ; and the other follows him, 
out of curiosity, and sees him meet another man and talk intently 
with him, not deferentially or humbly, but as a man talks with an 
equal. And then drawing nearer he might suddenly see that the 
man his friend has gone out to meet, and with whom he is talking 
so intently, is some high minister of State, or even the King 
himself ! That is a simple comparison, to make clear what the 
Apostles might have felt. They had gone into the mountain ex- 
pecting to hear their Master speak quietly to them or betake 
Himself to silent prayer ; and then they find Him robed in light 
and holding converse with the spirits of the air, telling His plans, 
so to speak, to two great prophets of the ancient world. If this 
had been but a pageant enacted for their benefit to dazzle and 
bewilder them, it would have been a poor and self-conscious 
affair ; but it becomes a scene of portentous mystery if one thinks 
of them as being permitted to have a glimpse of the high, urgent, 
and terrifying things that were going on all the time in the un- 
seen background of the Saviour's mind. The essence of the 
greatness of the scene is that it was overheard. And thus I think 
that wonder and beauty, those two mighty forces, take on a very 
different value for us when we can come to realize that they are 
small hints given us, tiny glimpses conceded to us, of some very 
great and mysterious thing that is pressingly and speedily pro- 
ceeding, every day and every hour, in the vast background of life ; 
and we ought to realize that it is not only human life as we see 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 355 

it which is the active, busy, forceful thing ; that the world with 
all its noisy cities, its movements and its bustle, is not a burning 
point hung in darkness and silence, but that it is just a little 
fretful affair with infinitely larger, louder, fiercer, stronger powers, 
working, moving, pressing onwards, thundering in the background ; 
and that the huge forces, laws, activities, behind the world, are 
not perceived by us any more than we perceive the vast motion 
of great winds, except in so far as we see the face of the waters 
rippled by them, or the trees bowed all one way in their passage.^ 

1. The soul may he transfigxired. — In those hours of absorbing 
emotion, in desire and communion and surrender, God's Spirit 
works in upon the soul. By a spiritual law the whole inner 
core of our being is reacted upon, and mind and heart and 
will are transformed. This subjective blessing of prayer — the 
cleansing and renewing of the soul while we pray — is not the only, 
not the supreme, answer to prayer; but it is the first, the im- 
mediate, and the most enduring answer we can receive ; it is the 
answer which is never denied. 

^ "What possibilities of glory there are in human nature ! 
Scientists perceive in us undeveloped senses, and anticipate a 
period when man will possess qualities, perceptions, and powers 
far exceeding any attributes of the present. It is in Christ Jesus 
that the latent glory of our nature stands most fully and con- 
spicuously declared. In Him we see what man is in the Divine 
ideal. He has shown of what our moral nature is capable ; in Him 
we behold the transfigured conscience, will, affections, character. 
He has shown of what this physical vesture is capable in exalta- 
tion, refinement, and splendour.^ 

2. The face mayle transfigured. — The face is the involuntary 
and, at the last, the accurate index of the soul. A man may 
" smile, and smile, and be a villain " through a few years of his life. 
But in the end, let him pose and posture and dissemble as he 
will, what he has become in his soul is seen on his face. As 
surely as the sap wells up in the stem, and bursts out into leaf 
and blossom, and as certainly as the acid in a man's blood will be 
seen in the scab upon his skin, the passion of his soul renewed in 
hours of consecration will become the light and the line which all 
men's eyes can see. 

' A. C. Benson, Joyous Gard, 120. 
2 W. L. Watkinson. 


^ There were two faces which the great artists of the Middle 
Ages held it to be their just ambition to represent. One was the 
face of Christ. But that face was as a rule the artist's despair. 
The other face was that of the Madonna Mary, the Virgin of 
Nazareth. These mediaeval artists sought far and near for faces 
of perfect beauty as models for their portraits. They looked into 
every young face in the hope that the ideal in line and form and 
colour would be found. One can see in all the galleries of the 
Continent those pictures of radiant youth and dazzling bloom. 
But the nobler minds soon passed beyond the thrall of those 
faultless faces with their dimpled beauty and their earthly charm. 
They began to search after something more lovely and more sig- 
nificant than skin-deep loveliness. They began to discern that 
the face of some simple peasant girl, marked by no unusual grace 
of contour or of colouring, could wear a glory which earth could 
not give. They marked that her daily prayer before the cross 
had schooled her soul to God's discipline and enriched it with 
God's grace. So Eaphael painted as his Madonnas a simple 
peasant girl, with motherhood's human yearning in her eyes, and 
the pale austerity of consecration matching her white stole, and 
the mark of her rapt and adoring humility manifest in the grace 
and sweetness of her air. They realized that when the soul had 
become transfigured the light in the temple of God shone through.^ 

3. The life may he transfigured. — " His raiment was white and 
glistering." We read these words with a little wonder and more 
doubt. We are tempted to think that they are a note of ex- 
aggeration in the report. We wonder if the white snow of the 
Hermon Hill above them had not dazzled their eyes. But quite 
apart from the fact that the radiance of the face would steal 
down and illumine Christ's white robe, this statement is a hint 
and a prophecy of a vital truth. The transfiguration of the soul 
within is not only seen in the shining of the face ; it begins to 
transform and to ennoble the very habit of the life. It is nothing 
marvellous to us that after years of devotion and long continuing 
in hours of prayer and the renewing of the mind from day to day, 
the clothes a man wears proclaim the transfiguring power of the 
Spirit of God. Although not suddenly and in a moment, yet 
surely and with increasing beauty, all life is transfigured. A 
man's look, his courtesies of speech and of gesture, his walk and 
poise, his ways and customs, his gifts and services, the very 
' W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 185. 

ST. MATTHEW xvii. i, 2 357 

furnishing of his home and all the habits of his life, become 

TJ Astronomers tell us that dead, cold matter falls from all 
corners of the system into the sun, drawn by its magic magnetism 
from farthest space, and, plunging into that great reservoir of fire, 
the deadest and coldest matter glows with fervid heat and 
dazzling light. So you and I, dead, cold, dull, opaque, heavy frag- 
ments, drawn into mysterious oneness with Christ, the Sun of our 
Souls, shall be transformed into His own image, and like Him be 
light and heat which shall radiate through the universe.^ 

^ Many old faces have hard lines, grim angles, cold and cruel 
aspects. They reflect what the man has become in soul. They 
are the faces of men who are self-centred, unloving, and unhelpful. 
They reveal to every eye the fact that the man lives without 
prayer. But when life is increasingly and more deeply prayer, 
when, in desire for things good and true and beautiful, in com- 
munion with the God of our life, in surrender after surrender, 
the soul is transfigured, then we see not only the shining face but 
the raiment white and glistering. Newman has told this story in 
three impressive verses — 

I saw thee once, and nought discern'd 

For stranger to admire; 
A serious aspect, but it burn'd 

With no unearthly fire. 

Again I saw, and I confess'd 

Thy speech was rare and high; 

And yet it vex'd my burden'd breast, 
And scared, I knew not why. 

I saw once more, and awe-struck gazed 

On face, and form, and air; 
God's living glory round thee blazed — 

A Saint — a Saint was there !^ 

^ No outline of his personality can be at all adequate without 
the attempt being made to describe an exceedingly elusive, but at 
the same time distinguishing, characteristic, which the word 
charm does not entirely cover ; it was this, that the Seer in him, 
or, if it must be called by the more modern name, the transcen- 
dental Self, was always visible. Intensely human as he was, 

^ A. Maclaren, Paul's Prayers. 

' W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 188. 


understanding all in the lives of those about him — the most 
trifling difficulties and the most profound, entering gaily into the 
merriest mood or the manliest sport — the presence of this tran- 
scendental Self was always apparent. Everything about him 
seemed an expression of this, and if touched by some thought of 
specially wide reach from a friend or from a book, the contact 
with his imaginative Self sent a sort of transfigured look into his 
face, as if a flame had been lighted.^ 

^ M. S. Watts, George Fredei-ic Walts, i. 115, 

Eternal Life. 



Allen (G. W.), Wonderful Words and Works, 85. 

Bain (J. A.), Questions Answered hy Christ, 52. 

Cockin (G. S.), Some Difficulties in the Life of our Lord, 114. 

Cooper (E.), Fifty-Two Fwmily Sermons, 116. 

Davidson (A. B.), The Called of God, 299. 

Eyton (R.), The Ten Commandments, 147. 

Goodwin (H.), Parish Sermons, iii. 198. 

Lucas (B.), Conversations vdth Christ, 182. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew xviii.-xxviii., 47. 

Morrow (H. W.), Questions Ashed and Answered by our Lord, 210. 

Prothero (G.), The Armour of Light, 253. 

Salmon (G.), The Reign of Law, 194. 

Shedd (W. G. T.), Sermons to the Spiritual Man, 34. 

Christian World Pulpit, xxxviii. 152 (M. Dods). 

Church Pulpit Year Book, 1906, p. 182. 

Homiletic Review, New Ser., xxxvii. 424 (G. E. Faber). 

Preacher's Magazine, xii. 7 (M. G. Pearse). 


Eternal Life. 

And behold, one came to him and said, Master, what good thing shall I 
do, that I may have eternal life ? — Matt, xix, i6. 

1. Tms young ruler, who appears and disappears again so suddenly 
in the gospel narrative, is one of the most interesting and tragic 
figures in the Bible. The interest is enhanced by the strong 
resemblance he seems to bear to the Apostle Paul in circum- 
stances and character. Both were in the prime of early man- 
hood when they came into contact with Jesus. Both were rulers, 
with all that such a position implied of theological education, 
social position, and ecclesiastical influence. Both were religious 
to the full extent of their light, striving to obey the Law and 
believing that they had succeeded. Both were lovable in dis- 
position. Both were rich. The one, we are told, had great 
possessions. The wealth of the Apostle of the Gentiles is inferred 
from various circumstances. It is inferred from the education 
that he received, from the fact that he was a ruler, from the ease 
and air of equality with which he addressed nobles, governors, and 
kings, from the position occupied by his relatives in Jerusalem, 
from the two years' imprisonment in which Felix detained him in 
the hope of obtaining a bribe, from the consideration shown to 
him on the voyage to Eome, from the unusual permission given 
him to take Luke with him. It is also suggestive that his 
favourite description of the gospel is " riches," a suitable word on 
the lips of one who had been forced to ask himself if he had 
received compensation for what he had sacrificed. The point of 
decision in both men was the same — the necessity to abandon a 
supposed righteousness ; and the touchstone of sincerity in both 
was the same — their readiness to abandon wealth for Christ. At 
that point the difference arose. The one went away sorrowful, 
for he had great possessions. The other counted all things but 

loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. 



2. Never before had such an one come to Jesus. That he should 
come at all was much; that he should come at such a time 
was very much ; that he should come at such a time and 
in such a way was a splendid proof of independence, of courage, 
and of earnestness. It was utterly unlike those about him. A 
man whose religion was not a cloak for all kinds of self-indulgence ; 
whose wealth was not a thing that possessed and enslaved him; 
who had not learned to put the anise and cummin in place of 
justice and mercy ; who did not go priding himself on his long 
robes, or his long prayers, or his trumpeted alms — free ahke 
from hypocrisy or pride, simple and sincere. Nor was it any 
sudden outburst of emotion kindled by the sight of that face, by 
His words of wisdom, or by the tokens of His tenderness. No 
shallow-ground hearer of the Word was this, receiving it with 
joy, and then when the sun was up withering away. There was 
the fixed habit of goodness in him. A blameless youth had led 
up to a generous and noble manhood. So sincere, so brave, so 
earnest, no wonder that Jesus beholding him loved him. The 
look, the tone, the manner of Jesus told how His heart went 
forth to him. 

% It may be instructive to set this young man beside that 
other ruler who came to Jesus. Nicodemus came at the very 
outset of the Saviour's ministry, when as yet men had not made 
up their minds as to His authority, and when at any rate there 
was neither peril nor social sacrifice in recognizing Him. And 
yet Nicodemus came by night, under cover of the darkness. He 
came when Jesus was alone, or when only John was with Him. 
But now Jesus is excommunicated; He is denounced and con- 
demned, and the authorities have already sought to stone Him. 
On every side there are those who watch Him with a hatred that 
only His death will satisfy. To honour Him in any way is to 
incur their suspicion and denunciation. Yet this young ruler 
comes openly before all the people. And more than that, there is 
an enthusiasm in his coming, an ardent admiration for Jesus 
Christ that no other rich man ever showed. He came running — • 
that was a starthng enough thing amidst the leisurely strut of the 
Pharisee and the languid indifference of the rich. Such enthu- 
siasm has always been regarded as vulgar by the well-to-do ; and 
to be vulgar is with them worse than to be wicked. He came 
with a respect and reverence that acknowledged alike the great- 
ness and the goodness of the blessed Lord. He kneeled at the 

ST. MATTHEW xix. i6 363 

feet of the Saviour, and asked Him, as the great authority, 
" Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal 

The QuESTioiT. 

1. By " eternal life " we must understand not merely 
continued existence, but continued happy existence, than which 
there can be no higher good. Many people are happy here — at 
times, and for times. But the old saying, "No one is always 
happy," shows how constant is man's experience of the mutability 
of happiness. And many men wonder why this is so. The truth 
is — though few people see it at first — that nothing is, or is real, 
but what is in harmony with the mind and will of God. He alone 
can create. What man seems to create, as apart from God, can 
last only so long as man's illusion lasts ; for it is illusion alone that 
gives such " works " apparent reality. As in the case of the house 
founded on the sand, a little time and those natural forces which 
can overthrow anything illusory will distinguish the apparent 
from the real. The illusion will vanish like a burst bubble ; and 
what is real — that is, what is in harmony with the mind and will 
of God — will alone endure. Therefore eternal life can mean only 
a life (desires, tastes, workings, productions) that is in harmony 
with the mind and will of God. All else is folly, vanity, empti- 
ness, illusion, which, like the state of childhood, can last its time, 
and then must pass away. 

^ In the complex, of vivid, operative convictions connected 
with Eternal Life there is, first, a keen yet double sense of 
Abidingness — an absolute Abidingness, pure Simultaneity, 
Eternity, in God; and a relative abidingness, a quasi-eternity. 
Duration, in man (qvM personality). And the Eternity is always 
experienced by man only within, together with, and in contrast 
to, the Duration. And both Eternity and Duration stand out, in 
man's deepest consciousness, with even painful contrast, against 
all mere Succession, all sheer flux and change. Here the special 
value lies in the double sense that we are indeed actually touched, 
penetrated, and supported by the purely Eternal ; and yet that 
we ourselves shall never, either here or hereafter, be more than 

1 M. G. Pearse. 


quasi-eternal, durational. For only this double sense will save us 
from the perilous alternatives of an uncreaturely sheer fixity and 
an animal mere flux and change. We thus gain a perennial source 
of continuity and calm. There is, next, the keen sense of Other- 
ness in Likeness. We are genuinely like, and we are genuinely 
unlike, God, the Kealized Perfection. Hence there is ever a certain 
tension, a feeling of limitation or of emptiness, a looking for a 
centre outside of, or other than, our own selves. Here again this 
double sense will be profoundly helpful in our troubles. For thus 
we are never free to lose reverence for the deepest of what we 
are, since it is like God, and actually harbours God. And yet we 
may never lose humility and a thirst for purification, since even 
the deepest and best of ourselves never is, never will be, God.^ 

2. Where had the ruler got hold of the thought of eternal 
life ? It was far above the dusty speculations and casuistries of 
the Eabbis. Probably from Christ Himself. He was right in 
recognizing that the conditions of possessing it were moral, but his 
conception of " good " was superficial, and he thought more of doing 
good than of being good, and of the desired life as payment for 
meritorious actions. In a word, he stood at the point of view of 
the Old Dispensation. " This do, and thou shalt live," was his 
belief; and what he wished was further instruction as to what 
" this " was. He was to be praised in that he docilely brought 
his question to Jesus, even though, as Christ's answer shows, there 
was error mingling in his docility. The fact that he came to 
Christ for a purely religious purpose, not seeking personal 
advantage for himself or for others, like the crowds who followed 
for loaves and cures, nor laying traps for Him with puzzles which 
might entangle Him with the authorities, nor asking theological 
questions for curiosity, but honestly and earnestly desiring to be 
helped to lay hold of eternal life, is to be put down to his credit. 
■He is right in counting it the highest blessing. 

3. Probably when he came to our Lord with his question the 
ruler had an idea that Christ would recommend him to build a 
synagogue or ransom some of his countrymen who were slaves, or 
do some striking religious act ; for when our Lord gives him the 
simple answer that any child of his own household could have 
given him, he answers, "What commandment?" fancying He 

' F. von Hugel, Eternal Life, 365. 

ST. MATTHEW xix. i6 365 

might mean some rules for extraordinary saintliness which had 
not been divulged to the common people ; and evidently, when 
our Lord merely repeated the time-worn Decalogue, the young 
man was disappointed, and somewhat impatiently exclaimed, 
" All these have I kept from my youth up." He probably did not 
mean to vaunt his own blamelessness of life. Not at all. He 
merely meant to state that all his life he had had these command- 
ments before him, and if this were all our Lord had to tell him, 
then that was no fresh light for him at all. All the good they 
could do him he had already got ; and that was not all the good 
that could be got, he felt. " What lack I yet ? " We are told 
that the Talmud describes one of the classes of Pharisees as the 
" tell-me-something-more-to-do-and-I-will-do-it " Pharisee. The 
young man plainly belonged to this class. He thought he was 
ready to make any sacrifice or do any great thing which would 
advance his spiritual condition. 

•(I A sermon by the Archbishop of York emphasizing that the 
test of religion is love for one's neighbours fills her with delight ; 
a sermon on the third anniversary of her baptism by the vicar of 
St. Mary Abbot's, in which " he laid stress on the impossibility of 
doing without first being," is noted with ardent enthusiasm a few 
days afterwards. Then she makes an approving note of some 
words of Dr. Parker : " He spoke against men who met together 
in a nice room to discuss how to do something for the suffering 
masses ; if you want to reach them— go to them yourself." " I 
feel no doubt of religion," she wrote on the threshold of 1891, and 
she immediately hurried to reflect that it was Hfe essentially: 
" There is a tremendous difference between admiring and 
believing in Christianity on the one hand, and on the other putting 
ourselves under the Divine influence hour by hour." She was 
discovering the old problem of how to be what one believed, and 
she was just the person to solve it with almost a ruthless 
rectitude. She had come to the briar patches already.^ 

4. It is evident that the young ruler made the mistake of 
forgetting that goodness can come only from God. He apparently 
imagined that goodness is inherent in man, if he only knew how 
to exercise it. " What good thing shall I do ? " And the Lord 
answered, " Why askest thou me concerning that which is good ? " 
as if there were several good things: good works, and good 

^ J. Eamsay MaoDonald, Margaret Etlul MacDonald, 66. 



eternal life ? There is but one true Good, and that is not a thing, 
but a Being. God is the One Good, and the One Life. It is as 
if our Lord would say, " You ask Me a question which I cannot 
answer directly ; because, if I did, you would not understand Me. 
Eternal life is not a commodity to be purchased at a price. God 
and eternal life are one. If you have God, you have eternal life ; 
if you enter into God, you enter into eternal life." Or, more 
plainly, if your idea of life, what you like, desire, work for, is one 
with God's idea of life, you are thereby one with God. Your will 
is " at-oned " to His will ; and therefore what you vnll you will 
have eternally, because you vnll what is eternal. For God is 
good, and good is God ; and therefore whatever is good — the good 
thought, the good desire, the good deed — these, and these only, 
are eternal. 

^ We should mark and know of a very truth that all manner 
of virtue and goodness, and even that Eternal Good which is God 
Himself, can never make a man virtuous, good, or happy, so long 
as it is outside the soul. Therefore although it be good and 
profitable that we should ask and learn and know what good and 
holy men have wrought and suffered, and how God hath dealt 
with them, and what He hath wrought in and through them, yet 
it were a thousand times better that we should in ourselves learn 
and perceive and understand who we are, how and what our 
own life is, what God is and is doing in us, what He will have 
from us, and to what ends He will or will not make use of us. 
Further we should learn that eternal blessedness lieth in one 
thing alone, and in nought else. And if ever man or the soul is 
to be made blessed, that one thing alone must be in the soul. 
Now some might ask, " But what is that one thing ? " I answer, 
it is goodness, or that which has been made good, and yet neither 
this good nor that, which we can name, or perceive or show ; but 
it is all and above all good things. . . . All the great works and 
wonders that God has ever wrought or shall ever work in or 
through the creatures, or even God Himself with all His goodness, 
so far as these things exist or are done outside of me, can never 
make me blessed, but only in so far as they exist and are done 
and loved, known, tasted and felt within me.* 

5. The ruler also forgot that goodness is not a thing to be 
done, or an attribute of actions, but an element of character in 
the person who performs the actions. There is no more common 

' Theologia Oermanica, chap. ix. 

ST. MATT HE V/ xix. i6 367 

mistake in religion and ethics than this, and scarcely any mistake 
more fatal. It shifts the centre of gravity in religion from the 
centre to the circumference, from the soul to the outward act. 
The form of his question, " What good thing shall I do ? " reveals 
the short-coming of his apprehension as to how the case really 
stands. He puts the question much as one might ask, "What 
premium must I pay to insure my life for a thousand pounds 1 " 
The premium is paid, not from the love of paying it, but as the 
only way of procuring a good we desire to obtain. Note how our 
Lord, in His reply, at once tries to shift the question to a different, 
and higher, ground. The question is, " What good thing shall I do 
that I may have eternal life ? " The answer is, " If thou wilt enter 
into life." Eternal life is not a thing you can have, as you have 
an estate, or a balance in the bank. It must have you : you must 
enter into it. A man and his estate are two, and can be separated : 
a man and his eternal life are one, and cannot be separated. 

^ The young ruler is in the position of a man who comes to 
his medical adviser complaining of a slight uneasiness which he 
supposed a tonic or a change of air may remove, and is told that 
he has heart disease or cancer. Or he is in the position of a 
sanguine inventor, who has spent the best years of his life on a 
machine and at last puts it into the hands of a practical man 
merely to get the fittings adjusted and steam applied, and is tqld 
that the whole thing is wrong in conception and can never by 
any possibility be made to work.^ 

6. The man was thus under an entire misapprehension as to 
his own spiritual condition. Exemplary in conduct, very much 
the model of what a wealthy young man ought to be, he had 
naturally some self-complacency. He had become a ruler of the 
synagogue, and was probably a man of influence, of large charity 
and much good feeling, so that the people who saw him come to 
consult Jesus would suppose that it was something of a conde- 
scension on his part. He was not perfectly satisfied, however, 
about his spiritual condition, but he thought a very little addition 
to his present attainments would set him above suspicion. He 
was well enough as he was, but he wished, as any young man with 
anything in him does wish, to be perfect. He was of an ardent, 
aspiring temper, and would leave nothing undone that he could 

' Marcus Dods. 


measure his human nature and strength with, so he came to 
Jesus, not to be taught the mere rudiments, but to receive the 
finishing touches of a religious education. 

^ In Clean Browning pictures man perfectly civilized, having 
left the lower and unconscious forms of life and grown to the 
only life, the life of culture, the pleasure house. 

Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul, 
"Which whole surrounding flats of natural life 
Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to; 
A tower that crowns a country. 

It is a magnificent conception of the educated, refined, civilized 
man. And then comes the awful awakening to its utter unsatis- 

But alas. 
The soul now climbs it just to perish there ! 

And then he pictures the visions from that tower of capacity for 
joy, spread round it, meant for it, mocking it, and the agony of 
the soul finding itself less capable of enjoyment even than before. 
The very fatigue consequent on the realization has brought de- 
struction to it. 

We struggle, fain to enlarge 
Our bounded physical recipiency. 
Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life, 
Eepair the waste of age and sickness : no. 
It skills not ! life's inadequate to joy. 
Most progress is most failure. 

He fails just as he is learning the value of gifts which he longs 
to use and cannot. To his patron Protus he writes : — 

Thou diest while I survive? 
Say rather that my fate is deadlier still, 
In this, that every day my sense of joy 
Grows more acute, my soul (intensified 
By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen; 
While every day my hairs fall more and more, 
My hand shakes, and the heavy yea^s increase — 
The horror quickening still from year to year, 
The consummation coming past escape 
When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy. 

ST. MATTHEW xix. i6 369 

The progress of culture without the spiritual outlet which com- 
munion which Christ brings, without the vision of the Eternal, 
beyond time and sense, being one with us, is only more and 
more unsatisfying. When we have kept all the commandments 
of science and philosophy and civilization, the question will recur, 
"What lack I yet ?"i 


The Answek. 

1. Jesus said to him, " If thou wilt be perfect — if thou wilt 
supply what is lacking — sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." This is intended to bring 
out an application of the law which he had not observed. There 
is one of the commandments the purpose of which is to pierce the 
heart and bring not merely the outward action to view, but also 
the actuating impulses. It is interesting to note that in the 
case of the Apostle Paul, whose resemblance to the young ruler 
has been referred to, it was thus that his boasted righteousness 
dissolved. " I had not known sin, except through the law : for I 
had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt 
not covet." So here, too, Jesus brought out the unobserved 
covetousness by asking the young ruler to sacrifice his wealth for 
the eternal life he was anxious to acquire. 

^ There is no passion so tenacious as covetousness. Most of 
the passions which rule men are exposed before long to some 
withering influences. The passions of young life are bound up 
with our physical nature, and with changed physical conditions 
their supremacy may be undermined. The passions of manhood, 
like ambition and the love of power, are shaken by stormy 
weather. . . . Covetousness, unlike other passions, grows stronger 
with advancing years. The power of pleasure dies, the value of 
fame is found to be unsubstantial, but wealth is hard, solid, lasting 
— more real than the vain things which charmed our younger 
years. So wealth is loved, and covetousness grows, and becomes 
a tyrant vice with increasing years. It was a true instinct which 
led Dante to picture avarice as an invincible foe. In his pilgrim- 
age he passed safely by the leopard of pleasure ; he feared, yet 
was not vanquished by, the lion of ambition ; but the lean wolf 
of avarice drove him step by step back to the darkness. Such is 

^ R. Eyton, The Ten Gomma/nd/meifUs, 157. 
ST. MATT. — 24 


the power of covetousness. It is a vice which renews its strength 
and is tenacious and remorseless.^ 

2. This young man was plainly told that in order to inherit 
eternal life he must give up his pleasant home, all his comforts, 
his position in society, and become a poor, houseless wanderer. 
This always seems a very harsh demand to make of a well- 
intentioned youth. One might have expected that, instead of 
thus bluntly laying down an ultimatum, our Lord would have 
won him by gentle, gradual, seductive methods. But often the 
decision of the surgeon who sees what must in the long run be 
done, and knows that every hour lost is a risk, sounds abrupt 
and harsh to those who have no such knowledge; and "ve can 
scarcely question that the method which our Lord adopted with 
this young man was not merely the only wise method, but the 
kindest possible method. This young man's possessions happened 
to be what prevented him from following Christ; but some 
pursuit of ours, or some cherished ambition, or some evil habit, 
or some love of ease, or mere indifference, may be as completely 
preventing us from learning of Christ and from living as He lived 
and so attaining true likeness to Him. 

11 " Never fear to let go," he says in his philosophical notes ; " it 
is the only means of getting better things, — self-sacrifice. Let go ; 
let go ; we are sure to get back again. How science touches the 
lesson of morals, which is ever. Give up, give up ; deny yourself, — 
not this everlasting getting; deny yourself, and give, and in- 
finitely more shall be yours ; but give — not bargaining ; give from 
love, because you must. And if the question will intrude, ' What 
shall I have if I give up this ? ' relegate that question to faith, 
and answer, ' I shall have God. In my giving, in my love, God, 
who is Love, gives Himself to me.' " ^ 

3. But the demand of Jesus was not simply to sacrifice his 

wealth. Jesus makes no such merely negative claim on men. 

He desires to put Himself in the place of that which the heart 

has worshipped. He adds, "And come, follow me." That is. 

He must have the first place in the heart and life of those who 

seek eternal life. Christian life is not mere renunciation. It 

often appears to be such to those who look only at the renuncia- 

' W. Boyd Carpenter, The Son of Man Among tJie Sons of Men, 148. 
' Life and Letters of James Einton, 206. 

ST. MATTHEW xix. 16 371 

tion by which they are asked to enter on life. To make that re- 
nunciation is a great venture of faith. The man who makes it 
does not yet see that what he will get will make ample amends 
for what he loses. Christ is Himself the fountain of spiritual 
life to those who come to Him. He is life. Coming to Him and 
following Him is life indeed. Many seek life by flinging a loose 
rein on the neck of their passions, others in the exercise of the 
intellectual and social gifts they possess. But the richest life 
is that which calls into exercise the highest elements of our 
nature, those elements which bring us into touch with the 
spiritual and the eternal. The life Christ gives is eternal. It is 
above the powers that bring the lower elements of Hfe to an end. 
And it is the satisfying life — the life that will compensate for 
any sacrifice that has to be made to attain it. 

^ Our Saviour, with that wonderful consideration that belongs 
to Him, never demanded anything unreasonable. Some He has 
bidden to leave all and follow Him. Some He bids to go home 
to their friends, and there, within the circle of their own influence, 
declare what great things God has done for them. The way of the 
Cross, the way to Heaven, can never be the way of self-indulgence 
and seK-pleasing, whether coarse or refined. It seems to me that 
a refined, self-pleasing, indulgent sentimentalism, with its pretty 
phrases, its exquisite propriety of emotion, with nothing endured, 
with nothing done, is one of the subtlest religious perils of the day. 
It is as the Son of God, come down from Heaven, that Christ 
said, "Believe on me"; but it is as the Son of Man, living a 
human life, that He said, "Follow me." He showed how men 
might live in the world, and yet not be of the world ; or, in St. 
Paul's phrase, how they might use the world without abusing 
it, and make life a nobler, purer, and holier thing.^ 

4. Let us remember that Jesus was already girt for the great 
sacrifice. He was hastening to surrender Himself utterly to it. 
He who was rich had become poor and had humbled Himself to 
death, even the death of the cross. The claims of the world and of 
wealth could scarcely find a place in His thoughts. Already He 
for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising 
the shame. And now the enthusiastic approach of the young 
ruler, most welcome to his Lord, is answered with this splen- 
did opportunity of service. He may bring his devotion and his 
' Bislwv Fraser's Lancashire Life, 254. 


longing after goodness into the service of the Saviour ; he may go 
with Him as one of His chosen disciples to Jerusalem, and to the 
judgment-hall, and to Calvary, and find eternal life in thus follow- 
ing his Lord and in such fellowship with Him. Is not this the 
meaning of the Master's words — that He would fain have had this 
brave and earnest spirit as one of His chosen band ? The word 
was that which was spoken to the disciples in Csesarea Philippi 
when Jesus had first revealed to them that He must die, and it is 
recorded only once besides. If the young man had but seen the 
meaning of the words as the Saviour did, in the light of eternity, 
in the light of the glory of God, how sublime an offer it would 
have appeared, what trust and confidence it declared, what an 
opportunity for highest service it afforded ! 

^ Have you ever seen those marble statues in some public 
square or garden, which art has so fashioned into a perennial 
fountain that through the lips or through the hands the clear 
water flows in a perpetual stream, on and on for ever ; and the 
marble stands there — passive, cold, — making no effort to arrest 
the gliding water 1 It is so that Time flows through the hands of 
men — swift, never pausing till it has run itself out ; and there is 
the man petrified into a marble sleep, not feeling what it is which 
is passing away for ever. It is just so that the destiny of nine 
men out of ten accomplishes itself, slipping away from them, aim- 
less, useless, till it is too late. Now is a time, infinite in its value 
for eternity, which will never return again. Now — or Never. 
The treasures at your command are infinite. Treasures of time — 
treasures of youth — treasures of opportunity that grown-up men 
would sacrifice everything they have to possess. Oh for ten years 
of youth back again with the added experience of age ! But it 
cannot be.^ 


The Choice. 

1. "He went away sorrowful." The completeness and im- 
mediateness of the collapse are noticeable. The young man 
seems to speak no word, and to take no time for reflection. He 
stands for a moment, as if stunned. The eager look passes from 
his face and the shadow of a great disappointment darkens his 
' F. W. Robertson, Sermons, ii. 289. 

ST. MATTHEW xix. i6 373 

brow. For the first time he found his resources insufficient to 
secure the object of his desire. He discovered that there were 
some things which money, however plentiful, could not buy ; that 
there were possessions which could not be inherited, but must be 
earned. He turned away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 
The great testing had come, the clouds which portended a great 
storm had already gathered, and soon the placid bosom of the lake 
would be heaving and swelling under the stress and strain of a 
mighty tempest. He would never be the same man again. The 
depths of his nature had at last been stirred, and the effect of the 
storm must give him a deeper peace than he had ever known 
before, or intensify the unrest which he had already experienced. 

2. He loved his comforts and his position better than he loved 
Christ. That is the whole state of the case. He did not oppose 
Christ. He was willing to consult Him. He was prepared to 
follow His advice to a certain extent. He recognized that He 
was a Teacher whom it would never do to argue with or scoff at. 
He owned Him a Teacher of the truth, but he could not obey 
Him ; he did not love enough to follow Him ; he was not fasci- 
nated by Christ. It is needless to say that, wherever such a 
comparative estimate of things spiritual and things worldly exists, 
the result must always be the same. Wherever a man is more 
concerned about his profits and his possessions than about his 
character, this will one day disastrously appear. Wherever love 
of Christ unsuccessfully competes with something inferior, this 
must one day show itself by the man cleaving to the inferior 
thing, and preferring to go with it. 

^ Tolstoy, the Russian socialist, has said that " the rich are 
willing to do anything and everything for the poor, except get off 
their backs!" Through a similar but universal perversity, the 
unconverted man is willing, more or less, to do anything and 
everything toward God that might lie in his power — heathen-like 
— except to yield Him real heart-friendship ! ^ 

3. Henceforward he disappears from the gospel history ; yet we 
are not forbidden to hope that the Saviour wlio loved him may 
have again repeated to him His command, "Follow me." The 
sorrow which he felt was, no doubt, real ; and it may have been 

» G. E. Fabdr. 


so lasting as to make him reconsider the wisdom of his choice. 
And the times were coming when his nation was to pass through 
bitter trials, and when the wealth of many who trusted in riches 
was suddenly taken from them. In the ordinary course of nature 
this young man would have lived to see this time of great 
calamity for the Jewish people, and it may well have been that 
he who would not, of his own accord, give up all for Christ, may 
afterwards have suffered the loss of all things, and yet have found 
that it was love that sent the trial, and that the Lord was making 
good His promise to him of treasure in heaven. 

In Dante's great poem there is a lost spirit without a name 
of whom he says, " I looked and saw the shade of him who through 
cowardice made the great refusal." And he places him among 
those whom he calls " hateful alike to God and to God's enemies." 
But was there not in that sorrowful and grieved departure a proof 
of nobleness ? How many rich men of to-day, if summarily bidden 
to sell all their goods and give to the poor, would go away grieved 
and sorrowful ? Would they not rather go away, like Naaman, 
in a rage, scornful that any could make so outrageous a proposal, 
and talking angrily about the importance of class distinctions? 
Was not that sorrow most of all at his own failure ; at finding his 
own weakness? We can follow him in thought to a happier 
destiny than Dante has depicted. It may well be that he went 
up to the Passover, and there again saw the Christ of whom 
he thought so much — saw Him accursed and crucified. And, 
strengthened by that great example, he may have given to his 
risen Lord that service which he had shrunk from before. We 
can think of him as foremost among those of whom we read, " As 
many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought 
the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the 
apostles' feet." 

"What lack you yet? A pathway, do you want. 
Of noble struggle after perfect good? 
A chance I give you: leave your cherished sphere 
Of virtuous deeds; sell all and follow Me." 

Think not this test a trial hard and stern, 
Coldly applied by Christ to shame his pride: 
No, 'twas a genuine offer, not bestowed 
On many. Men were often sent away: 

ST. MATTHEW xix. i6 375 

Not the relinquishment of outward wealth 

The chief thing Christ required; but that the man, 

Set free from earthly things, should then begin 

A loftier career, beside Himself. 

Think what this offer meant. Christ saw in him 

High capabilities: His heart went out 

To that young man. But it was not to be: 

His weakness was revealed; before his eyes 

Eose the heroic vision, and he saw 

It was beyond his power. The record ends 

With his discomfiture. He went away, 

A sadder, wiser man. We know no more. 

The Ministering Master. 



Anderson (W. F.), in Drew Sermons on the Oolien Texts for 1910, 199. 
Banks (L. A.), Sermons which have Won Souls, 365. 
Barry (A.), The Atonement of Christ, 39. 
Benson (B. M.), The Final Passover, i. 50. 
Black (H.), Christ's Service of Love, 23. 
Burrows (H. W.), Parochial Sermons, 12. 
Haokett (W. S.), The Land of Yoitr Sqjournings, 121. 
Hall (B. H.), Discourses, 14. 
Hallock (G. B. F.), The Teaching of Jesus, 145. 
Holland (H. S.), Logic and Life, 225. 
Hughes (H. P.), Ethical Christianity, 95. 
MacDonald (G.), A Dish of Orts, 298. 
Maclaren (A.), Christ's Mv,sts, 55. 
Marsh (F. E.), Christ's Atonement, 73. 
Murray (W. H.), The Fruits of the Spirit, 441. 
Rashdall (H.), Doctrine and Development, 128. 
Ridgeway (C. T.), The King and His Kingdom, 50. 
Robertson (A. T.), Keywords in the Teaching of Jesus, 41. 
Smith (G. S.), Victory over Sin and Death, 28. 
Wells (J.), Christ in the Present Age, 171. 
Williams (W. W.), Resources and Responsibilities, 71. 
Christian World Pulpit, xvii. 339 (A. Scott) ; xxiii. 82 (H. W. Beecher) ; 
xlix. 226 (L. Abbott) ; Hi. 285 (C. J. Ridgeway). 


The Ministering Master. 

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, 
and to give his life a ransom for many, — Matt xx. 28. 

The whole scope of the teaching and example of Jesus from the 
beginning went to show that greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven 
is a different thing from that which is accounted greatness among 
men. The pagan ideal of life, the semi-barbaric and old Eoman 
conception, finds the dignity and serviceableness of life in the 
influence of one man over another. From the days of Nimrod it 
has crowned the men of strong will. As Jesus said. They that 
wield authority over the nations have been hailed as their bene- 
factors. In the form of military or physical mastership, or in the 
less brutal form of intellectual rule, rule by law, or the assertion 
of brain-power over feebler races and feebler men, this ideal of 
human life has played a great part in history and is destined still 
to play a great part. The ages of "blood and iron," of the 
domination of the strong over the weak, and of ruling over 
subject peoples, are not yet done. 

The Christian ideal is the precise contrast. Christ came, not 
to be ministered unto, but to minister; not to enrich Himself, 
either with nobler or with baser wealth, but to impoverish Himself 
that He might make many rich. With Him first, and with His 
followers in proportion as they actually do follow Him, self is 
subordinated into a minister to others ; while the good of others 
and the honour of God in others' good become the end, the centre, 
the dominant and rewarding goal, towards which, in labour or in 
endurance, the whole life tends. 

^ Louis XIV., in his spirit of tyranny, could say, " I am the 
state." This was the pagan view. Frederick the Great, of Prussia, 
gave fine expression to the modern and Christian view in that 
noble utterance, " It is the business of the king to be the chief of 
the servants of the state ! " This is the new standard, and has taken 
firm hold of the thought and life of Christian civilization, and to- 



day, without argument, he is conceded to be the greatest who is 
greatest in service to the cause of human progress and the 
advancement of the Kingdom of God.^ 


The Pattekn of Service. 

" The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." 

1. The Master here finds occasion to teach His disciples the 
profound lesson that the way to spiritual greatness is by service. 
It seemed an inversion of the ordinary rule by which princes 
exercise dominion and the world's great men exercise authority. 
For here it is the opposite—" whosoever will be great among you, 
let him be your minister ; and whosoever will be chief among you, 
let him be your servant." He takes Himself as an illustration of 
the law ; for even the Son of Man " came not to be ministered 
unto, but to minister." The lesson is that we should follow in His 
steps, and make our religion not merely a getting but a giving, 
the service of Christ and of the brethren. 

^ The notion of rank in the world is like a pyramid ; the 
higher you go up, the fewer there are who have to serve those 
above them, and who are served more than those underneath 
them. All who are under serve those who are above, until you 
come to the apex, and there stands some one who has to do no 
service, but whom all the others have to serve. Something like 
that is the notion of position, of social standing and rank. And 
if it be so in an intellectual way, — to say nothing of mere bodily 
service^ — if any man works to a position that others shall all look 
up to him and that he may have to look up to nobody, he has just 
put himself precisely into the same condition as the people of 
whom our Lord speaks, — as those who exercise dominion and 
authority, — and really he thinks it a fine thing to be served. But 
it is not so in the Kingdom of Heaven. The figure there is 
entirely reversed. As you may see a pyramid reflected in the 
water, just so, in a reversed way altogether, is the thing to be 
found in the Kingdom of God. It is in this way : the Son of Man 
lies at the inverted apex of the pyramid ; He upholds, and serves, 
and ministers unto all, and they who would be high in His 

' W. F. Anderson. 

ST. MATTHEW xx. 28 381 

Kingdom must go near to Him at the bottom, to uphold and 
minister to all that they may or can uphold and minister unto.^ 

2. Now in order to appreciate the significance of that life of 
service, we must take into account the introductory \vords, " The 
Son of man came." They declare His pre-existence, His voluntary 
entrance into the conditions of humanity, and His denuding Him- 
self of the glory which He had with the Father " before the world 
was." We shall never understand the Servant-Christ until we 
understand that He is the Eternal Son of the Father. His service 
began long before any of His acts of sympathetic and self-for- 
getting lowliness rendered help to the miserable here upon earth. 
His service began when He laid aside, not the garments of earth, 
but the vesture of the heavens, and girded Himself, not with the 
cincture woven in man's looms, but with the flesh of our humanity, 
and " being found in fashion as a man," bowed Himself to enter 
into the conditions of earth. This was the first, the chief, of all 
His acts of service, and the sanctity and awfulness of it run 
through the list of all His deeds and make them unspeakably 
great. It was much that His hands should heal, that His lips 
should comfort, that His heart should bleed with sympathy for 
sorrow. But it was more that He had hands to touch, lips to 
speak to human hearts, and the heart of a man and a brother to 
feel with as well as for us. " The Son of man came." 

^ Scientists tell us that, by the arrangement of particles of 
sand upon plates of glass, there can be made, as it were, percep- 
tible to the eye, the sweetness of musical sounds ; and each note 
when struck will fling the particles into varying forms of beauty. 
The life of Jesus Christ presents in shapes of loveliness and 
symmetry the else invisible music of a Divine love. He lets us 
see the rhythm of the Father's heart. The source from which His 
ministrations have flowed is the pure source of a perfect love. 
Ancient legends consolidated the sunbeams into the bright figure 
of the far-darting god of light. And so the sunbeams of the 
Divine love have, as it were, drawn themselves together and 
shaped themselves into the human form of the Son of Man who 
came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.'' 

•^ Sir Walter Scott says that the most beautiful scenery in 
Scotland is where the Highlands and the Lowlands meet. Not in 

' George MaoDonald, A Dish of Orts, 299, 
' A. Maolaren, Christ's Musts, 57. 


the Highlands, nor yet in the Lowlands, but at the meeting of the 
two. And it is as true in the spiritual kingdom, when the beaten 
track becomes the highway of God, and the heavenly places in 
Christ Jesus are connected with the common duties and everyday 
business of life.^ 

3. He cdTne to minister. His service was to be utterly un- 
stinted. He would go the whole length with it. He saw that we 
should demand from Him all that He had ; that we should use up 
His very life ; that our needs and necessities would press upon Him 
so sorely, so urgently, that He would spend Himself, and be spent, 
in this hard service ; that we should never let Him stop, or stay, 
or rest, while we saw a chance of draining His succouring stores. 
He foresaw no light and easy giving, no grateful and pleasant 
ministry ; He saw that it would cost Him His very life. And yet 
He came : even that He would lay down for our profit ; even that 
He would surrender at our demands. And just because the work 
of the faithful service would indeed involve this surrender of life, 
which is the final and utter proof of all loyal and unselfish devotion. 
He had found it a joy and gladness to enter a world that would 
ask so much of Him. In this hope He came. " The Son of man 
came not to be ministered unto, but to minister"; yes, and so 
to minister, so to serve, that He would " give his life a ransom for 

^ Christ had always found His happiness and His honour in 
serving others and doing them good ; but the supreme illustration 
of the principle on which He conducted His life was still to come 
— His final service was to consist in giving His life a ransom for 
many. This image of a ransom does not appeal to our minds as 
forcibly as it would to those of the disciples, because the experi- 
ence of being ransomed, in the natural sense, is much rarer in 
modern than it was in ancient times. In the British Isles at 
present there do not probably exist a hundred persons who have 
ever been ransomed, whereas in the ancient world there would be 
such wherever two or three were met together. War was never 
a rare experience to the countrymen of Jesus, and in war the 
process of ransoming was occurring continually, when prisoners 
were exchanged for prisoners, or captives were released on the 
payment by themselves or their relatives of a sum of money. 
Similarly, slavery was a universal institution, and in connexion 

' L. A. Basks. 

ST. MATTHEW xx. 28 383 

with it the process of ransoming was common, when, for a price 
paid, slaves received their liberty. The Jews had, besides, 
numerous forms of ransoming peculiar to their own laws and 
customs. For example, the firstborn male of every household 
was, in theory, liable to be a priest, but was redeemed by a pay- 
ment of so many shekels to the actual priesthood, which belonged 
exclusively to a single tribe. A person whose ox had gored a 
man to death was in theory guilty of murder, but was released 
from the liability to expiate his guilt with his life by a payment 
to the relatives of the dead man. Such cases show clearly what 
ransoming was: it was the deliverance of a person from some 
misery or liability through the payment, either by himself or by 
another on his behalf, of a sum of money or any other equivalent 
which the person in whose power he was might be willing to 
accept as a condition of his release. It was a triangular trans- 
action, involving three parties — first the person to be ransomed, 
secondly the giver, and thirdly the receiver of the ransom.^ 

4. His life was a continued ministry. And it was such by its 
own necessity. Not as though He chose it should be so, as though 
He debated with Himself whether He would serve His fellow-men 
or not, go forth to meet persecution and contumely or lead a quiet 
and peaceful life, speak the truth that was in Him or withhold it ; 
but simply because there was that in Him which must needs 
find expression, because feelings so deep and tender must assert 
themselves, because sympathies so broad and generous cannot 
confine themselves within the heart, because the great power of 
blessing or capacity of action is its own incentive to beneficence 
or action. He would not be ministered to. He saw too many souls 
about Him to be aided, too many sorrows to be comforted, too 
many doubts to be answered, too much spiritual darkness to be 
illumined, for Him to wait for others' ministering. To see such 
needs was to long to supply them. To feel within Him the power 
to serve was to put forth that power. To know the truth for 
which other souls were waiting was to utter it. To minister was 
the Divine necessity of His being. It was His soul's great pre- 
rogative, which could not be put aside. 

^ Some can be touched by personal sympathy ; they have 
heart, but they cannot take a comprehensive view and embrace a 
noble cause — they fail in mind. Others have their imagination 

' J. stalker, The Christology of Jesus, 179. 


fired by a cause, but they cannot sympathize with a wounded 
heart. We have narrow good men, and we have iron-hearted 
philanthropists. Christ takes in the tender heart and compre- 
hensive thought — the person and the cause — the woman's way of 
looking at it and the man's. Or take another feature of it. He 
sympathizes with suffering and sorrow — a bruised heart ; and He 
weeps over sin — a blinded heart. Christianity alone has set these 
two forth, — it is our glory and our duty — -and in One Person ; the 
tenderness of the human with the comprehensiveness of the 

5. The virtue of His costliest service extended to alL He says 
here " a ransom for many." Now that word is not used here in 
contradistinction to " all," nor in contradistinction to " few." It 
is distinctly employed as emphasizing the contrast between the 
single death and the wide extent of its benefits: and in terms 
which, rigidly taken, simply express indefiniteness, it expresses 
universality. " Many " is a vague word, and in it we see the dim 
crowds stretching away beyond vision, for whom that death was 
to be the means of salvation. The words of the text may have an 
allusion to words in the great prophecy in the 53rd chapter of 
Isaiah, in which we read, " By his knowledge shall my righteous 
servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities." Calvin 
says, " The word ' many ' here is not put definitely for a certain 
number, but for a large number, for the Saviour contrasts Himself 
with all the rest of mankind." The New Testament meaning of 
" many " is " all." " Ye are of more value than many sparrows." 
Surely this means than all the sparrows. " If through the offence 
of one many be dead " (that is, all be dead), " much more the 
grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus 
Christ, hath abounded unto many." " That he (the Son) might be 
the firstborn among many brethren" — that is, among aU the 
brethren. In the ministry of His life He drew no distinctions ; 
in the ministry of His death He encompasses the wide world. 
" He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but 
also for the sins of the whole world." If in His life His ministry 
was, of necessity, confined within geographical bounds, on His cross 
He stretched out His hands, mighty to save, to the whole world. 

^ The word " ransom," though not rare in the Old Testament, 

' J. Ker, Thoughts for Heart a-ndLift, 148. 

ST. MATTHEW xx. 28 385 

is used in the New Testament, only in this context; and the 
English phrase, '' a ransom for many," is not likely to be misunder- 
stood. It means a ransom by means of which many are set free 
— from bondage, or captivity, or penalties, or sentence of death. 
But the Greek phrase might be misunderstood ; " a ransom instead 
of many " might be thought to mean that many ought to have 
paid ransom, but that He paid it instead of them ; which is not 
the meaning. And the indefinite " many " does not mean that 
there were some whom He did not intend to redeem ; that He did 
not die for all. " Many " is in opposition to one ; it was not for 
His own personal advantage that He sacrificed His life, but one 
life was a ransom for many lives. Here, where Christ for the 
first time reveals that His death is to benefit mankind. He does 
not reveal the whole truth. Compare 1 Tim. ii. 6 and 1 John ii. 2, 
where the more comprehensive truth is stated.^ 

^ When prisoners were bartered at the conclusion of a 
war, the exchange was not always simply man for man. An 
officer was of more value than a common soldier, and several 
soldiers might be redeemed by the surrender of one officer. For 
a woman of high rank or extraordinary beauty a still greater 
number of prisoners might be exchanged ; and by the giving up 
of a king's son many might be redeemed. So the sense of His 
own unique dignity and His peculiar relation to God is implied in 
the statement that Christ's life would redeem the lives of many. 
St. Paul expresses the truth still more boldly when he says that 
Jesus gave His life a ransom " for all " ; but the two phrases come 
to the same thing; because the "many" spoken of by Jesus 
really include " all " who are wilUng to avail themselves of the 


The Obugation of Sekvicb. 

" Even as the Son of man came." 

1. He came as a servant, and He has the right to ask service 
of us. We must give Him what He asks; not only because 
reason says that His claim is just, not only because conscience 
tells us there can be no peace till we take up His yoke and follow 
in His steps, but also because we are bound to the King by ties 

1 A. Pluinmer. 

' J. Stalker, The Chrislology of Jama, 184. 

ST. MATT. — 25 


of gratitude : " The love of Christ constraineth us, . , . that they 
which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him 
who for their sakes died and rose again." 

^ Long ago Lord Wolseley wrote in his Soldier's Pocket-Book a 
sentence which deserves to live — "The officers must try to get 
killed." The matter could not be more conclusively put. Not in 
the battlefield alone, but everywhere and always, except among 
the few lost souls of whom men do not speak, has that great rule 
won simple unthinking obedience. Every physician goes by it to 
the haunt of contagion. John Eichard Green wrote his beloved 
history when the pains of death gat hold upon him ; Archbishop 
Temple's father made provision for his widow and family by 
taking a government appointment in a deadly climate and leaving 
them a pension after two years' service. Undistinguished men 
and women are spending their slender capital of health and hfe 
with but a plain idea of doing right by those they love, and with 
no talk of sacrifice. So vast and lovely are man's possibilities 
when he turns his face to Eight — which is God ! ^ 

2. The soul finds its life only in action, in going forth out of 
itself. Neither mind nor heart matures, however fine its training 
or abundant its resources, if it simply appropriates to itself, giving 
nothing out. Its strength and power come as it begins to react 
upon the world. Self-culture, however noble an aim, is never the 
noblest. Good for our earlier years, it must be replaced in later 
life by some great purpose beyond — the love of truth for its own 
sake, the desire for power, or the pure longing to serve humanity. 
Between the life spent in such intellectual pursuits as will simply 
gratify the tastes, stimulate the mind, or kill time, and the hfe 
spent in some actual service to society is all the distance between 
the dilettante and the man. The advantage of great qualities of 
mind or heart lies not half so much in what they directly bring 
to us as in the larger strength and capacity which we gain through 
their exercise. The more keenly we learn to realize others' 
wants and desires, as though they were our own, the wider the 
sympathies by which we act, the further away from ourselves our 
affections are turned, so much the larger and more vigorous does 
the soul become. The morbid nature, as you sometimes encounter 
it, at home only with its own griefs, or dwelling solely in its own 
past, or in love with its own fastidiousness, or finding nothing 
1 W. S. Haokett, The Land of Vour Sojownings, 126. 

ST. MATTHEW xx. 28 387 

beautiful save in its own tastes and nothing great or good save in 
its own ideals, or pursuing any thoughts which circle round and 
round the little centre of self, becomes the sure abode of weakness 
and discontent. Its egotism can end only in insufferable weari- 
ness and intellectual death. 

3. In one of the most beautiful of his little poems, Whittier 
speaks about " the dear delight of doing good." He who has not 
tasted of that delight has been living upon the husks of things. 
They who spend their lives for others are ever living upon the 
'royal wine of heaven. When God called Abraham to go into a far 
country He gave him a casket containing seven promises : " And 
I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and 
make thy name great ; and thou shalt be a blessing : and I will 
bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee : and 
in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." " Thou shalt 
be a blessing " — this W£is the jewel in the casket. The man who 
has not tasted the luxury of being a blessing, who has not felt a 
vital personal relation to some good cause, and that he is of 
service to his fellow-men, has not yet sounded the deeps of life. 
This must have been in the mind of Browning when he spoke of 
" the wild joys of living." 

^ Dr. Henry vab. Dyke has given strong setting to this truth 
in his suggestive little poem. The Toiling of Felix. In 1897 a 
piece of papyrus leaf was found at Oxyrhynchus, near the Nile. 
It bore the fragments of several sayings supposed to be the lost 
sayings of our Lord. The clearest and most distinct was : 

Eaise the stone, and thou shalt find me; cleave the wood, and 
there am I. 

Dr. van Dyke has made the historic incident the occasion of the 
writing of a very significant little poem which exalts the dignity 
of labour. Felix, a young Egyptian, very early in his life is 
mastered by a longing for a revelation of the Divine glory. In 
quest of it he goes to the libraries, takes down the volumes which 
contain the creeds, studies them long and patiently in hope that, 
while he studies, the Divine glory will burst from out the sacred 
page. But after weary months of experimenting he concludes 
that he has not adopted the right method. 

Now he turns away from the libraries fifid frequents the 


sacred temples where men are wont to gather for worship. In 
the early morning and in the evening twilight he becomes a 
suppliant before the throne of heaven, at the altar of many a 
sacred fape. 

"Hear me, thou mighty Master," from the altar step he 

cried ; 
" Let my one desire be granted, let my hope be satisfied ! " 

But after other weary months of seeking he is again disappointed. 
Now he is told that yonder in the desert is a monastery, and 
in that monastery is an aged saint who has meditated long and 
patiently on the deepest problems of life ; that once a year the 
aged saint comes from out his lonely dwelling and gives his bless- 
ing to the individual whom he happens to meet. Felix places 
himself at the outer wall. One morning he sees the gate open. 
He presents himself as a suppliant and entreats the blessing of 
the aged one, who looks at him earnestly but only in silence. He 
takes a token, however, from his garments and handing it to 
Felix retires within the monastery. Felix is again disappointed. 
But as he turns away it occurs to him that there may be some- 
thing upon this token. He opens and reads : 

Raise the stone, and thou shalt find me; cleave the wood, and 
there am I. 

As he wonders what it all means he hears the echo of the 
hammers of the workmen who are engaged in quarrying out the 
stone in a stone quarry near at hand. Meantime an inner voice 
begins to plead with him and to suggest that he must become one 
of those workmen, and that by the rugged road of toil he will find 
his way to a vision of the Divine glory. The voice pleads so 
earnestly that at last he heeds it and presents himself, is accepted, 
and begins to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. At the 
end of the first day a new zest has come into his life. This grows 
on him as the days come and go. He is sure now he is on the 
right road. One day a fellow-workman is overcome by the burn- 
ing rays of the noonday sun. In natural compassion Felix 
shelters his head with a palm leaf, and while doing so it seems to 
him he catches the vision of a face of wondrous beauty. Another 
day they are transporting some building material across a stream 
of water ; the workman who stands by his side loses his footing 
and falls into the stream. In a moment Felix has plunged in 
after him. Firmly grappling him in one arm, he makes his way 
to shore with the other, and while he struggles toward the place 

ST. MATTHEW xx. 28 389 

of safety it seems to him that he sees a form walking on the 
surface of the water like unto the Divine form of the Son of God. 
Thus he finds the way to a fellowship with his Lord that is deep 
and rich, sweet and glorious and divine. 

The spirit or the teaching of the little poem is thus beautifully 
summed up by the author : 

This is the gospel of labour — ring it ye bells of the kirk — 
The Lord of Love came down from above, to live with the 

men who work. 
This is the rose that He planted, here in the thorn-cursed 

soil — 
Heaven is blest with perfect rest, but the blessing of Earth is 


• W. F. Anderson. 

The Good and Faithful Servant. 



Baker (0. C), in The Methodist Episcopal Pulpit, 203 

Brooks (P.), Christ the Life and Light, 222. 

Dawson (W. J.), The Reproach of Christ, 37. 

Farrar (F. W.), Social and Present-Day Questions, 254. 

James (J. A.), Sermons, iii. 260. 

Jordan (W. G.), The Crown of Individuality, 175. 

Jowett (J. H.), Meditations for Quiet Moments, 98. 

Llewellyn (D. J.), The Forgotten Sheaf, 99. 

Matheson (G.), !rhe Joy of Jesus, 5. 

Moule (H. C. G.), Thoughts for the Sundays of the Yea/r, 35. 

„ „ The Secret of the Presence, 194. 

Neale (J. M.), Sermons Preached in Sachville College Chapel, i. 301. 
New (C), The Baptism of the Spirit, 289. 
NicoU (W. R.), Ten-MinuU Sermons, 115, 268. 
Shannon (F. E.), The Soul's Atlas, 86. 

Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xxvi. (1880), No. 1541. 
Vincent (M. R.), Ood and Bread, 117. 
Christian World Pulpit, Ixxiv. 373 (G. H. Morrison) ; Ixxv. 391 (J. S. 

Expositor, 2nd Ser., vi. 204 (G. Matheson). 


The Good and Faithful Servant. 

Well done, g^ood and faithful servant : thou hast been faithful over a fev7 
things, I will set thee over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy 
Lord. — Matt. xxv. 21. 

The plain ethical purpose of this parable is to teach the need for 
fidelity to duty in all human concerns. The great idea on which 
it is based is that man is the depositary of a great trust. The 
Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who went into a far country 
and left his property to be administered by his servants. We have 
all of us as children been puzzled by the unaccountable fact that 
God is unseen, and that the Governor of the universe seems to 
take no active part in its affairs. This is Christ's answer to the 
puzzle : God has delegated the administration of His world to 
His servant, man. In man there is a Divine capacity for truth, 
and duty, and righteousness: and still further to guide and 
strengthen that capacity in its development, God has given him a 
code of instructions, which goes by the name of the " Kingdom of 
Heaven." Obeying that code of moral law it is in the power of man 
to administer the world rightly as the vicegerent of God, and to 
develop his own highest self in the process. Time and talent — 
every form of human gift and opportunity — are part of the wealth 
of God which is invested in man, and the one business of man in 
this theatre of human life is to be a faithful steward of the trust 
reposed in him. 

The Text defines— 

I. The Life that Christ Approves. 
II. The Bewards that Christ Dispenses. 


The Life that Christ Appkovks. 

"Good and faithful servant." Here are the elements of a 

great life. Christ does not say a great life is brilliant. He does 



not say a great life is splendid. He does not say a great life is 
illustrious. He does not say a great life is heroic. A great life 
is all these and more, but Christ does not say so. He simply 
says " good and faithful." 

1. Goodness is a fundamental and essential element of Christian 
character. It is a household grace, adapted to every changing 
circumstance, and to every occasion. Some of the Christian graces 
seem not to enter into every act of life, but are called out in 
peculiar emergencies. Patience and resignation exhibit them- 
selves only under the ills of life, or in the dark hour of adversity ; 
but Christian goodness, from whatever position it is viewed, is 
equally conspicuous. 

^ There is one place where the difference between the good 
man and the bad man is hidden out of sight, and that is when 
both are kneeling at the foot of the Cross. But till men are 
brought there in repentance, the gulf which separates the desire 
to serve God from the disregard of His will is as wide as from 
heaven to hell. Nov can we do a greater mischief to our con- 
sciences than by trying to teach them that because we are weak 
therefore all Christian goodness is worth nothing, and there is 
little to choose between living one way and living the other way. 
On the contrary, weak as we are, we are expressly told that our 
goodness is in kind the same as our Lord's. " He that doeth right- 
eousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." The little good of 
which we are capable is for all that in its nature heavenly, and 
comes directly from the other world. Our weakness may make 
us incapable of attaining much of it : and our want of earnestness 
may rob us of still more. But still in its kind it is of heaven and 
not of earth, and nothing on earth can be compared with it in 
value. We cannot be as true and just and unselfish as we should 
be ; and we are not as true and just and unselfish as we can be ; 
but for aU that, what truth and justice and unselfishness there is 
upon earth is of the same priceless heavenly quality as shall be 
found in the other world.^ 

(1) " Good " and " goodness " are used in different senses. We 
say that fruit is good, when it is agreeable to the sense of taste. 
An article of husbandry is good, when it is happily adapted to the 
purposes for which it was constructed. Goodness, as existing in 
the Deity, embraces that principle which leads the Divine Being 
' Archbishop Temple. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 21 395 

to bestow blessings upon His creatures. Goodness, as applied to 
man, must be taken in a restricted sense ; it refers to the moral 
qualities of his heart. It consists in the possession of the 
Christian graces. The Apostle has enumerated, " Add to your 
faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge 
temperance ; and to temperance patience ; and to patience godli- 
ness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly 
kindness charity." The supposed possession of any one grace 
gives us no right to profess Christian goodness. The Apostle says, 
"Add," lead up, alluding to the chorus in the Grecian dance, 
where they danced with joined hands. The allusion is a beauti- 
ful one, showing the intimate connexion existing between the 
graces of the Spirit. Where one truly exists, they all exist, and 
nearly in the same strength and maturity. Christian goodness is 
necessarily associated with Christian holiness. It implies not 
merely a state in which the sympathies of human nature are 
easily excited, and lead to acts of kindness towards the bereaved 
and distressed, but a state in which fruit is shown unto holiness, 
and the end eternal life. It is not a mere negative state, in which 
there is no marked development of unsanctified nature, but the 
good man, like Barnabas, is full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. 
When the work of creation was completed, from the beauty and 
harmony of the parts, and their perfect adaptation to accomplish 
the Divine purposes, everything was pronounced to be very good. 
No higher appellation could be given. And man now becomes 
good only so far as, by the renewal of the Holy Ghost, he bears 
the impress of his original nature. 

^ In a letter to his youngest boy, James Hinton wrote : " If 
you haven't been perfect, you must not be discouraged, but must 
only try again and the more. And remember, the art is to do at 
once ; delay is the great enemy. If you do at once what you are 
told, you can hardly imagine how beautifully everything will go. 
Only think of your ship ; you see as soon as ever the wind says to 
it go, it goes at once. It doesn't wait a moment ; and if it did, 
would it get on well, do you think? You know it wouldn't. 
Why, it would topple over, and its friend, the wind, in its very 
help, would only hurt. Now we ought to be Uke ships before the 
wind, and the wind should be love, moving us at once. Do you 
know, the Spirit, God's own Spirit, is called by the same word that 
means the wind ? And I dare say one reason is that He fills the 


sails, and that they yield freely and happily to Him, like ships 
before a favouring breeze." ^ 

(2) In our ordinary interpretations of this parable, we are in 
some danger of laying the emphasis on power rather than on 
character. We say, " The servant made the best of his power, and 
the result was correspondingly large." We draw the practical 
lesson, " The more faithfully you use your talents, the more you 
will accomplish." We perhaps tend to forget that it is the moral 
quality of the user that gives character to the result; that a 
smaller result, as the outcome of faithfulness, is more in God's 
eyes than a larger one without it ; that to God there is no large 
result, no good result, without goodness; that God demands 
interest on character no less than on endowment, and that interest 
on endowment counts for nothing without interest on character ; 
that quality fixes the rate of interest on quantity. We may go into 
the other world with the reputation of great or brUIiant or efficient 
men. It will count for nothing if we are not also good men. 

11 We have heard of the Eoman who, to show that he could 
not be dispirited by fear, or intimidated by suffering, calmly 
placed his right hand upon the burning altar, and there steadily 
held it, without emotion, until it was consumed. We have heard 
also of the distinguished martyr of whom it was said, "In an 
unguarded and unhappy hour he had subscribed to doctrines 
wMch he did not believe; an act which he afterward deeply 
repented of, as the greatest miscarriage of his Hfe. And when he 
was subsequently led to the stake, he stretched out the hand 
which had been the instrument in this false and discreditable 
subscription, and, without betraying, either by his countenance or 
motions, the least sign of weakness, or even of feeling, he held it 
in the flames till it was entirely consumed." In the one case we 
admire the man, in the other the moral principles of his heart. 
Though the acts were similar, the one showed the martial man, 
the other the good man.* 

f With special clearness Dr. Martineau shows that, as 
the Greek proverb, which Emerson so aptly quotes, well put it, 
" The Dice of God are always loaded," and goodness must ever 
in the long run win the victory. It would be difficult to find in 
English literature a more perfect combination of depth of thought 
with beauty of expression than is presented in that section of 

^ Life and Letters of James Hvnion, 216. 
■ 0. 0. Baker. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 21 397 

A Study of Beligion, in which Dr. Martineau illustrates " The 
Triumphs of force in History," and shows how rude strength 
always gives way at length before intelligence ; how intelhgence, 
when it chiefly subserves the ends of pleasure or of gain, is sure 
to be worsted in the struggle with moral principle, and how in our 
present civilization the unobtrusive elements of Christian faith 
and love are gradually over-mastering all lower and coarser forces 
and tending to become, in the course of centuries, the dominating 
influence in the social and pohtical Hfe of humanity.^ 

2. Faithfulness imparts the quality which answers God's test 
of moral value; and value and award in the Kingdom of God 
turn upon quality, and not upon quantity. Faithfulness spans 
the differences of ability. No difference of endowment can put 
one out of reach of that test. It follows endowment down to its 
vanishing-point, and binds the possessor of an infinitesimal fraction 
of a talent to raise his fraction to the highest power as stringently 
as it binds the holder of five or ten talents. The servant with 
the smallest capital was condemned simply because he did not 
use it. On the other hand, endowment never rises out of the 
atmosphere of faithfulness. No measure of abihty ever exempts 
from duty. No amount of brilUancy compensates for unfaith- 

^ There is no lack of great works going on for our Lord to 
which we may safely attach ourselves, and in which our talent is 
rather used by the leaders of the work, invested for us, than left 
to our own discretion. Just as in the world there is such an end- 
less variety of work needing to be done, that every one finds his 
niche, so there is no kind of ability that cannot be made use of in 
the Kingdom of Christ. The parable [of the talents] does not 
acknowledge any servants who have absolutely nothing; some 
have little as compared with others, but all have some capacity to 
forward the interests of the absent master. Is every one of us 
practically recognizing this — that there is a part of the work he is 
expected to do ? He may seem to himself to have only one talent, 
that is not worth speaking about, but that one talent was given 
that it might be used, and if it be not used, there will be some- 
thing lacking when reckoning is made which might and ought 
to have been forthcoming. Certainly there is something you can 
do, that is unquestionable ; there is something that needs to be 
done which precisely you can do, something by doing which you 
' Life amd Letters of James Mwrtvwm^ ii. 442. 


will please Him whose pleasure in you will fill your nature with 
gladness. It is given to you to increase your Lord's goods.^ 

3. When we think of the world's great men, when we get to 
know them intimately in their Uves, there is perhaps nothing so 
arresting as the fidelity which we discover there. When we are 
young we are ready to imagine that the great man must be free 
from common burdens ; we think he has no need to plod as we 
do and face the weary drudgery daily; we picture him light- 
hearted and inspired, moving with ease where our poor feet are 
bleeding. In such terms we dream about the great in the days 
when we know little of them, but as knowledge widens we see how 
false that is. We see that at the hack of everything is will. We 
come to see how every gift is squandered if it be not clinched with 
quiet fidelity, until at last we dimly recognize that the very 
keystone of the arch of genius is something different from all 
the gifts, that something which we call fidelity. 

^ One of the latest critics of Shakespeare, Professor Bradley, 
insists upon the faithfulness of Shakespeare. It is the fidelity of 
Shakespeare, in a mind of extraordinary power, he says, that has 
really made Shakespeare what he is. The same is true of Sir 
Walter Scott. It is written on every page of his journal. If 
there ever was a man who was faithful unto death, faithful to 
honour, to duty, to work, and to God, it was that hero who so loved 
his country, and died beside the murmur of the Tweed. Yes, one 
mark of all the greatest is a fidelity which is sublime. No gifts, 
no brilliance, no genius can release a man from being faithful. 
Not in the things we do but how we do them, not in fame but in 
fidelity, is the true test of a man's work, according to the teaching 
of our Lord.^ 

^ On that great day when the nobility of England assembled 
in Westminster Abbey before the open tomb in which the body of 
David Livingstone was to be laid, all eyes were fixed on the quiet, 
black man, Jacob Wainwright, who stood at the head of the coffin. 
He was the Zanzibar servant who with his companions had 
brought his master's body back from the swamp in the heart of 
Africa where he died, and had delivered him to the representative 
of the Queen at the seacoast, and had asked as his sole recompense 
the privilege of attending the body until he could deliver it to his 
friends in the distant home. Now the service was completed ; 

' Marcus Dods, The Parables of Our Lord, i. 263. 
' 6. H. Morrison. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 21 399 

and as England arose to pay her tribute of honour to the heroic 
man who had given his life to close the open sore of the world, 
all eyes were turned to the faithful servant who stood at the head 
of his grave.^ 


The Eewaeds that Cheist Dispenses. 

1. The first word of the Master is a word of recognition and 
approval — " Well done ! " Fournier names his latest book, Two 
New Worlds. It is a study of the infra-world and the supra- 
world — a theory of the wonders of electrons and stars, a mathe- 
matical survey of the infinitesimal and the infinite. Now, here 
are two words that hold more wonders than two worlds. Here is 
the ultimate pronouncement of God and His universe upon the 
highest attainment of the human spirit. " Well done ! " 

^ The God of the Holy Scriptures is characteristically generous 
in His moral estimates of His servants. He pronounces 
perfect and good men in whom we have no difficulty in seeing 
moral defect. The epithets are freely applied wherever there 
is single-hearted devotion ,to the cause of God — to a Moses, 
a David, a Job, a Barnabas. And those who serve the Lord of 
the Kingdom ought to bear this truth in mind. It is well that we 
think humbly of ourselves, but it is not well that we imagine that 
God thinks meanly of the best endeavours of His servants. It is 
injurious as towards Him, and it is degrading in its effect on our 
own character. KeUgion, to be an elevating infiuence, must be a 
worship of a generous, magnanimous God. Therefore, while in the 
language of a former parable we say of ourselves we are unprofit- 
able servants, so disclaiming all self-righteous pretensions to merit, 
let us remember that we serve One who wiU pronounce on every 
single-hearted worker, be his position distinguished or obscure, or 
his success great or small, the honourable sentence, " Well done, 
good and faithful servant." ^ 

2. The faithful servant is given a larger sphere of power and 

influence. "I will set thee over many things." God's rewards 

are never arbitrary. They grow out of the struggle that we wage, 

as the fruit of autumn grows from the flower of spring. All 

1 H. A. Stimson, The New Things of God, 224. 

^ A, B. Bruce, The Parabolic Teaching of Christ, 213, 


the rewards that we shall ever gain are with us in their rudi- 
ments already, just as the doom that awaits some in eternity is 
germinating in their heart this very hour. We see, in the light 
of that, why Christ associates faithfulness and rule: "Because 
thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler 
over many things." It is because one is the outflow of the other, 
as is the burn of the spring among the heather. It is because, as 
flower from the bud, influence blossoms from fidelity. 

][ What is it to be faithful ? It is to be full of faith. The 
man who has no faith is not faith full but faith empty. He is 
faithless. It is trusting God down to the end of the journey, 
through storm and sunshine, through adversity and prosperity, 
through good report and evil report, saying, even with the last 
breath, " Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." It is fidelity. 
It is being trustworthy as well as trustful. It is trusting God 
until men can trust me. It is being so loyal to duty, so devoted 
to truth, so steadfast to principle, that no lure of quick success 
can tempt me to be faithless. It means that I should rather be 
defeated than lie, that I should rather fail in business than succeed 
through dishonesty, that I should rather be broken in fortune and 
ruined in reputation than compromise my honour. And it is all 
this, not for a day or a year, or a decade, but for life, not merely 
when it pays but when it costs, not only when it is applauded 
but when it is hissed ; it is " unto death." ^ 

3. While the reward bears a direct relation to present fidelity, 
like all God's gifts it is exceeding abundant — "a few things," 
" many things." The greatness of God is that He asks so little 
and gives so much. A missionary left a few pages of the Gospel 
in an Indian village. Swifter than the arrows he shot from his 
bow, the message went straight to an Indian's heart. Meanwhile, 
the missionary had travelled on some two hundred miles. But 
the Indian measured the missionary's footprint, made him a fine 
pair of moccasins, tracked him over hill and valley until he found 
him, and gave him the tokens of his gratitude. God always takes 
the measure of His servant's footprint. And though he travel 
never so far and never so lonely, God will overtake him — no, not 
that, God will go with him, God will slug to him, God will cheer 
him, God will rest him, God will comfort him, God wiU richly 
reward him ! God's remunerations are incalculable ! For brass 
' J. I. Yance, Tmdene>/, 227. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 21 401 

He gives gold, for iron He gives silver, for stones He gives iron, 
for a few things He gives many things ! 

^ The bounty of the Lord gives enlarged opportunity for 
energy and usefulness. The "few things" of earth are to be 
replaced by " many things " which Divine grace provides for the 
faithful. The close of the earthly life, which seems as the yielding 
up at once of the capital and the gain procured by it, is followed 
by introduction into a new and grander order of things, in which 
larger possessions and wider opportunities are intrusted to each 
one. The greater power appears as a wider influence and rule 
under God's government. In the everlasting life procured for 
us by Jesus, a future is prepared for enlarged work and also for 
extended reward. In the heavenly kingdom, where righteousness 
reigns in man and extended favour comes from God, life is pro- 
gressive in ever increasing ratio.^ 

4. The faithful servant is admitted into the Master's own joy. 
" Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

(1) What is the joy of God ? As concerns us, one thing and 
only one — our goodness. Not our activity, not our intelligence, 
but to see us growing more and more like Himself, purer, truer, 
more loving — this is the sight in us that sends a new current of 
joy through the perfect happiness of the perfectly happy God. 
To reach by His grace, by His training, some new measure of His 
holiness, to recognize it and begin to use it and rejoice in it as His 
gift; to lift up our hearts with the same happiness as fills 
His heart when a new temptation is conquered and a new purity 
reached — this is to enter into the joy of our Lord. 

^ In one of His most beautiful parables, the Lord gives us a 
glimpse of one of His joys. A shepherd has lost a sheep. It has 
wandered on to the wilds, and has missed the flock. The good 
shepherd goes in search of it. He roams over the storm-swept, 
rain-beaten moors. He peers into precipitous ravines. He 
descends into valleys of shadow, where the wild beast has its lair. 
He trudges high and low, far and wide, gazing with strained vision, 
and at last he finds his sheep, maybe entangled in the prickly 
brushwood, or bruised and broken by the rocky boulders of sonie 
treacherous ravine. "And when he hath found it, he layeth it 
on his shoulder, rejoicing." That is one of the joys of the Lord — 
the finding of the lost ! "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 
Can we do it ? Stay a moment. Let us follow the shepherd home. 
1 H. Calderwood, The Parables of Our Lord, 417. 
ST. MATT. — 26 


" And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and 
neighbours, saying unto them, Eejoice with me, for I have found my 
sheep which was lost." Could they do it ? I know that they could 
come to his house, and sit down to the feast, and enjoy the good 
things provided, and fill the house with music and song. But could 
they really enter into his joy ? Suppose that among his neighbours 
there were some who had been with him upon the wilds, who had 
dared the dangers of the heights and the terrors of the beasts, who 
had trudged with tired feet far into the chilly night — would not 
these be just the neighbours who would be able to enter into the 
shepherd's joy ? To enter into the joy of finding, we must have 
entered into the pain of seeking. To enter into the joy of my Lord, 
I too must become " a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." ^ 

(2) A measure of joy accompanies all good and faithful work. 
" The doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." 
Before the deed reaches completion a wave of heavenly satisfaction 
and joy breaks over the soul of the doer, which reveals the truth 
that man is in his element when doing good. Our conscience 
condemns us when we do an unkind action ; we are pained when 
we fall below our ideal of true manhood ; pain accompanies the 
dirty deed as inevitably as when the body receives a blow. The 
years, as they roll on, will cause us to lose many an object that 
we would fain keep, but they will not obliterate the memory of 
painful actions. " Verily we are guilty concerning our brother," 
said Joseph's brethren when they appeared before the ruler of 
Egypt. There was something, maybe, in the tone of the ruler's 
voice which reminded them of Joseph and of their own dastardly 
deed. Painful was the recollection and fearsome was the whisper- 
ing of their guilt concerning their brother. On the other hand, 
our moral nature approves kindness in the glow of pleasure which 
begins within in the doing of the deed. The doer becomes con- 
scious of the music of heaven as he goes along his way. The 
angels of heaven seem to him to be opening doors of pleasure and 
joy each step he takes, and voices ring out the Divine invitation, 
" Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

Just to recollect His love, 

Always true. 
Always shining from above, 

Always new; 

' J, H. Jowett, Meditations for Qvdet Moments, 99. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 21 403 

• Just to recognize its light 

Just to claim its present might, 

All-upholding ; 
Just to know it as thine own, 

That no power can take away — 
Is not this enough alone 

For the gladness of the day? 

(3) The joy of the Lord is reserved in its fulness for the other 
life. Here His people fight the battle within themselves. With 
the great simplicity of revelation, St. James tells us the source of 
all disquiet, from the meanest brawl to world-shaking war: 
" From whence come wars and fightings among you ? Come they 
not hence, even of the lusts that war in your members ? " The soul 
is without peace until the will rules every other power, and until 
that will is Christ within. The true kings unto God have known 
this so well that they have hardly asked for any other dominion. 

^ I cannot describe that joy. It is something to be experi- 
enced rather than described. As the rose defines the bush, as the 
music interprets the musician, as the pure face explains the pure 
heart behind it, so, in some such way, doth God's joy in the soul 
sing of the God who created the soul in His own image. I some- 
times think that we have a hint of that joy when God and the 
soul understand each other in Christ. This picture from life may 
help us just here. There are in the parsonage two boys between 
five and six years of age. They are cousins ; they are healthy ; 
they are selfish ; they are strenuous. You know the rest. The 
other night, after returning from a preaching engagement in a 
distant part of the city, I walked up to the bed on which the two 
lads lay, sound asleep. And the picture that met my eyes was so 
lovely that I walked away and back again for the third time. 
There they lay, cheek to cheek, heart to heart, hand in hand, even 
breathing in perfect unison, folded in the calm and sweet embrace 
of slumber. Long hours before, they had forgotten their scratched 
faces. Long hours before, they had forgotten the toys that caused 
so much misunderstanding. Long hours before, they had forgotten 
the unkind words they did not mean. Long hours before, they 
had forgotten their little heartaches and dried their childish tears. 
Long hours before, they had climbed the white, dreamful hills of 
sleep, where tearful eyes become tearless, where stormy words melt 
into peace, where broken toys and broken hearts are mended, 
where God's angels brood above restful pillows ! 


And so there is one place — more tranquil than childhood's 
sleep, more wonderful than childhood's dreams ! — where our souls 
may find whiteness, where our minds may find unity and poise, 
where our hearts may find forgiveness, where our hot brows may 
find coolness. And that place is the bosom of Jesus Christ. In 
Him, through whom Jehovah is reconciling the world unto 
Himself, the soul and its God come to a perfect understanding. 
Then are set in motion those deepening currents of joy whicl? will 
flood us at last into that infinite ocean named "the joy of thy 
Lord" 11 

» F. E. Shannon, The Soul's Atlas, 101. 

Unto Me. 



Burrell (D. J.), The Verilies of Jesus, 82. 
Butler (W. A.), Sermons, ii. 347. 
Carroll (B. H.), in The Southern Baptist Pulpit, 54. 
Darlow (T. H.), The Upward Calling, 217. 
Dykes (J. 0.), Plain Words on Great Themes, 159. 
Barnes (J.), The Shattered Temple, 79. 
Ford (G. E.), in Religion in Common Life, 72. 
French (E. A.), God!s Messages through Modern Doubt, 75. 
Hepher (C), The Self-Revelation of Jesus, 54. 
Holden (J. S.), Redeeming Vision, 86. 
Jenkinson (A.), A Modern Disciple, 205. 
Leach (C), Sermons to Working Men, 24. 
Lucas (H.), At the Pa/rting of the Ways, 277. 
Miller (J. R.), A Help for the Common Days, 31. 
Parker (J.), City Temple Pulpit, ii. 22. 
Parkhurst (C. H.), Three Gates on a Side, 157. 
Pearson (A.), The Claims of the Faith, 53. 
Service (J.), Sermons, 216. 
Tyng (S. H.), The Peoples Pulpit, iii. 61. 
Watts-Ditchfleld (J. E.), Fishers of Men, 91. 

Christian Wwld Pulpit, xviii. 89 (J. H. HoUowell); xxiv. 337 (T. E. 
Evans) ; xxix. 259 (R. Veitch) ; Ixxxi. 310 (L. G. Broughton). 


Unto Me. 

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my 
brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.— Matt. xxv. 40. 

1. Our Lord is here lifting the curtain of the Unseen. He is 
describing a great symbolic act of final judgment. The Throne 
of God is pictured, set upon the clouds ; the nations are gathered 
before Him. The King is seated to judge in person. The issues 
of eternity depend upon His word. He will give sentence, with 
discernment that cannot err, of reward or punishment to every 
man according to his works. He calls no witnesses, for none are 
needed. The books that are opened, spoken of elsewhere, are 
but the universal memory of the Divine omniscience which this 
Judge brings to His work. Without hesitation, without the 
possibility of other than perfect justice. He divides, sepa- 
rating one from another to the right hand or to the left, and 
they that have done evil go, in that timeless existence which 
we call eternity, into punishment, but they that have done good 
into life. 

2. The two earlier parables of judgment refer to those who 
are in confessed relationship with God. The parable of the Ten 
Virgins represents the relationship of friendship, — that of people 
who would share in the joys of God's home, as friends at a 
wedding feast; the parable of the Talents represents a less 
intimate relationship — that of service; the talents are com- 
mitted to their proprietor's " own servants." Now the scene 
changes, and we are brought out to the larger world of the 
nations; the judgment of those who do not know Christ as 
their Friend or consciously serve Him as their Master is here 


4o8 UNTO ME 

The Judge. 

1. The Judge is " the Son of Man." The significance of that 
title is thus drawn out by Dr. Sanday : " The ideal of humanity, 
the representative of the human race. , . . Jesus did deliberately 
connect with His own Person such ideas as these. . . . This deeply 
significant title ... at the centre is broadly based upon an 
infinite sense of brotherhood with toiling and struggling humanity, 
which He who most thoroughly accepted its conditions, was fittest 
also to save." 

It is the conception which fits most closely to St. Paul's 
thought of Jesus as the Head of the race, the second life-giving 
" Adam," the consummation of humanity, in whom all that is 
human is gathered up, the new Father of the Eace, for at His birth, 
perhaps by virtue of His birth of a virgin, there came into the 
stream of human life a fresh impulse of creative power, as some 
swift-flowing clear and wholesome stream pours itself into a 
sluggish and polluted river. He has bound humanity to Himself, 
and Himself to humanity, in His incarnation, multiplying the 
bonds of union in His love. None is so near akin to each of us 
as He, not even brother or child; therefore none is faint and 
weary among us, none is wrong or oppressed, but He feels the 
pain and the heartache. It is this first that gives truth to His 
words, " Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even 
these least, ye did it unto me." He is the Son of Man because He 
stands in a unique relation to the human race. 

^ Not with people as social accidents have sorted them — as 
rich or poor, as wise or foolish, as lords and ladies or humble folk, 
has He that close affinity which makes Him call us all His 
" brethren " ; but deep within these wrappings of rank or circum- 
stance He who shares our nature reads the characteristic features 
of our manhood — common infirmity, common need, common pains, 
and common mortality. In these it was that He took part. In 
these, as often as He sees them. He still claims to have a share. 
Whatever sharpens in your bosom the sense that your neighbour 
is your brother-man must likewise sharpen the sense that he is 
a born brother to the Son of God. Is it not, then, due to this 
deep underlying unity of His nature with all our race, a race 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 40 409 

which, Bundered by many things, is one in its sorrows, that Jesus 
Christ bids us discern Himself in every man who hungers, bleeds, 
weeps, or dies ? With that most human of all things, suffering, 
the badge, not of a tribe, but of our whole race, has He most com- 
pletely identified Himself, who is Himself the Ideal Man and the 
Eepresentative Sufferer for all mankind. " Ye did it unto me ! " ^ 
Tf Not long since, a lady stood on our southern coast and saw 
a dear sister drown. She could neither give help nor procure it ; 
she could only stand still and sufier. And it is told to this day 
how they both died together, one in the sea, and the other on the 
land. As the remorseless current choked life in the one, grief 
palsied the heart of the other. Not a blow was struck, not a 
wave touched her feet, but that awful sympathy which links our 
souls became insufferable, and went to her heart as fatally as an 
assassin's steel.* 

^ The first evangelist, who delights to grace his narrative of 
the ministry of Jesus with citations from the Hebrew scriptures 
containing oracles that have at length found their fulfilment, be- 
thinks himself of that weird description of the suffering servant 
of Jehovah in the writings of Isaiah, and the text which appears 
to him most apposite is : " Surely he hath borne our griefs, and 
carried our sorrows." Surely, indeed ! The oracle is happily 
chosen. What strikes Matthew's mind is the sympathy with 
human suffering displayed in Christ's healings. He could easily 
have found other texts descriptive of the physical side of the 
phenomenon, 6.g., the familiar words of the 103rd Psalm, " who 
healeth all thy diseases." But it was the spiritual not the 
physical side of the matter that chiefly arrested his attention: 
therefore he wrote not "that it might be fulfilled which was 
spoken by David, saying, who healeth all thy diseases," but " that 
it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, 
saying. Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases," 
translating for himself from the Hebrew to make the text better 
suit his purpose. The evangelist has penetrated to the heart of 
the matter, and speaks by a most genuine inspiration. For the 
really important thing was the sympathy displayed, that 
sympathy by which Jesus took upon Himself, as a burden to His 
heart, the sufferings of mankind. That was the thing of ideal 
significance, of perennial value, a gospel for all time. The acts 
of healing benefited the individual sufferers only, and the benefit 
passed away with themselves. But the sympathy has a meaning 
for us as well as for them. It is as valuable to-day as it was 

' J. O. Dykes, Flwim, Words on Great Themes, 165. 

a J. H. HoUowell. 


eighteen centuries ago. Tea, it is of far greater value, for the 
gospel of Christ's sympathy has undergone developments of which 
the recipients of benefit in Capernaum Httle dreamed. Christ's 
compassion signified to them that He was a man to whom they 
might always take their sick friends with good hope of a cure. 
How much more it signifies to us ! We see there the sin-bearer 
as well as the disease-bearer, the sympathetic High Priest of 
humanity who hath compassion on the ignorant, the erring, the 
morally frail ; who, as a brother in temptation, is ever ready to 
succour the tempted, whose love to the sinful is as undying as 
Himself, " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." ^ 

2. The Son of Man is identified with us not only in nature 
but in condition. "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he 
became poor." His design in coming here at all was to be 
a Healer, Eescuer, and a Comforter for mankind. To One who 
came forth from the unseen world of bliss on such an errand, 
the most suitable place and the most attractive would be the place 
where He was needed most. In His own language, the physician 
must go where the sick are to be found ; and the sore, sad sick- 
ness under which humanity pines away to death is at once sin 
and the suffering which is sin's shadow. To get near enough to 
our stricken race that He might probe and know its misery, feel 
and bear its evil, and win the power at once to stanch its wounds 
and lift from it its whole burden, Jesus needed to become familiar 
with men in whom the malady had worked itself out to its pain- 
fullest consequences. Therefore "he bare our sicknesses and 
carried our sorrows." He became the companion of the unhappy, 
and the resort of outcast men and women and of the desperately 
sick whom no one else could save. It was on the shady side of 
life that He expected to find a welcome. The proud and prosper- 
ous are too well satisfied with the world and with themselves to 
make likely patients for a Divine Healer. Where people had 
drunk life's cup down to the bitter lees, and found at the bottom 
only failure, penury, sickness, and sorrow of heart, there He 
hoped to win a hearing for His soft and soothing call, " I will 
give you rest." 

^ What is this quality of sympathy which Jesus so constantly 
revealed ? Certainly it is something more than amiable pity for 
distress. Such the priest and Levite might have felt, who never- 
' A. B. Bruce, The Galilean Qosptl, 130. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 40 411 

theless passed their wounded countryman on the other side. As 
its meaning teaches, sympathy is never indifferent. It is a 
"suffering with" the distressed. It is the "passion of doing 
good." It is the satisfaction of self in the helping of others. A 
reader of the woes of soldiers left to die on a battlefield knows 
the emotion of pity. It is a Plorence Nightingale who 
sympathizes with them by nursing them back to life. One 
learns with regret and concern of the wretched lives of the 
lepejs in the penal colonies in the south seas. It is a Father 
Damien who by his self-devotion and tireless labours, ending only 
in the common death of the afflicted ones, reveals what sympathy 
in its truest form can mean. Herein is seen the revelation of 
God's life in Christ. His is not the passionless and unsuffering 
life which the medieval saints loved to picture.^ 

3. The Judge is so identified with the moral law that He 
feels every violation of it as an outrage upon Himself. Dr. Dale 
of Birmingham used to say, " In God the moral law is alive." 
We may go further. This word of judgment, which we are now 
considering, is true only because in Jesm the moral law is alive. 
To resist His will is a synonym for sin. It is the nature of 
Christ which is outraged by every sin that is committed. 
Holiness is simply the will of Christ, and whenever we have 
put from us truth as we know it, or right as it called to 
us, whenever we have held down the good within us and 
given rein to the evil, it was Jesus who was there despised and 

^ Dora Greenwell, in her poem, A Legend of Toulouse, 
describes the act of wilful sin as the flinging of a dagger at the 
heart of God, in desperate revolt against the splendour of His 
holy nature. 

A legend was it of a youth. 

Who as it then befell. 
From out his evil soul the trace 
Had blotted out of guiding grace, 

Abjured both heaven and hell; 
That once unto a meadow fair, 

(Heaven shield the desperate !) 

Impelled by some dark secret snare, 

Bepaired, and to the burning sky 

Of summer noon flung up on high, 

> H. L. 'Willett, The Call of the Chrut, 167. 

412 UNTO ME 

A dagger meant for God's own heart, 
And spake unto himself apart 
Words that make desolate. 

The dagger that was meant for God found its mark in the heart 
of Christ ; and in the blood from His wounds we are to see the 
appeal of God to the sinner for mercy, upon the cross, and in His 
crucifixion in the soul of the sinner. 

There came from out the cloudless sky ' 

A hand, the dagger's hilt 
That caught, and then fell presently 

Five drops, for mortal guilt 

Christ's dear wounds once freely spilt: 
And then a little leaf there fell 
To that youth's foot through miracle — 
A leaf whereon was plain 

These words, these only words enwrit, 
Enwritten not in vain. 

Oil! miserere mei; then 

A mourner, among mourning men, 
A sinner, sinner slain 
Through love and grace abounding, he 
Sank down on lowly bended knee. 

Looked up to heaven and cried, 
"Have mercy, mercy, Lord, on me 
For His dear sake, who on the tree 

Shed forth those drops and died!" 


The Standard of Judgment. 

The standard of judgment is intensely human and practical. 
It is no ecstatic rapture, no ritual observance, no external 
profession that is to be the test. It is plain humanity, a cup of 
cold water, a morsel of bread — social service, in a word. In this 
tremendously Divine word, with its sweep of authority so 
amazing, here is the kind of test most natural to man, as it is 
true to His own example. 

1. The final test for every soul is its relation to Christ 
Himself. It does not seem to be so much a verdict passed by one 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 40 413 

who has heard the evidence and sums it up impartially as a 
sentence which results from the touchstone of His presence. He 
implies that He — partly the word He has spoken, partly the 
works He has done, but essentially He Himself — is the standard 
by which men will be tried. In some of His sayings the idea of 
the Judge almost melts away, becomes an inappropriate image. 
Eather there appears simply the gracious Saviour of men, the 
only One who could really save them, and for that reason the 
only One who could really judge them. He is there, not only in 
the last day, but now always in the course of human history, in 
our midst, willing to save all who will accept His call, rejecting 
literally no one, but for that reason passing an unwilling verdict on 
those who will not come unto Him that they might have life. It 
seems to be in this sense that He regards His function of 
judgment as beginning from the time of His manifestation to men. 
And we almost gather that the scene of a judgment-bar, and the 
dramatic division of all mankind into two classes at one moment, 
is sketched for the sake of pictorial representation to the 
multitude, but that what fills the mind of Jesus is the intrinsic 
determination of men's destiny by contact with Himself in the 
field of human experience. Following up this suggestion, which 
comes more from a study of His modes of thought than from an 
accumulation of particular utterances, we arrive at the idea that 
He is the appointed Judge of all mankind for this reason : at the 
long last, when the ultimate destiny of every human being will be 
(Jetermined, the one factor which will be decisive must be the 
relation of each to Jesus. 

^ The place assigned in the last judgment to Himself in the 
words of Jesus is recognized by all interpreters to imply that the 
ultimate fate of men is to be determined by their relation to Him. 
He is the standard by which all shall be measured ; and it is to 
Him as the Saviour that all who enter into eternal Kfe will owe 
their felicity. But the description of Himself as Judge implies 
much more than this : it impHes the consciousness of ability to 
estimate the deeds of men so exactly as to determine with 
unerring justice their everlasting state. How far beyond the 
reach of mere human nature such a claim is, it is easy to see. No 
human being knows another to the bottom; the most ordinary 
man is a mystery to the most penetrating of his fellow-creatures ; 
the greatest of men would acknowledge that even in a child there 

414 UNTO ME 

are heights which he cannot reach and depths which he cannot 
fathom. Who would venture to pronounce a final verdict on the 
character of a brother man, or to measure out his deserts for a 
single day ? But Jesus ascribed to Himself the ability to deter- 
mine for eternity the value of the whole life, as made up not only 
of its obvious acts but of its most secret experiences and its most 
subtle motives.'- 

Thou didst it not unto the least of these, 

And in them hast not done it unto Me. 
Thou wast as a princess rich and at ease — 

Now sit in dust and howl for poverty. 
Three times I stood beseeching at thy gate. 

Three times I came to bless thy soul and save: 
But now I come to judge for what I gave. 

And now at length thy sorrow is too late.^ 

2. Christ interprets our relation to Himself by our conduct 
to the least of His brethren. We cannot spend our treasures as 
Mary did in ministering to the personal honour or refreshment of 
our Divine Lord. He is far withdrawn now beyond need or reach 
of human ministry into the serene heaven of His glory. But, 
though absent. He has left His proxies behind Him. No disciple 
may excuse himself to-day from imitating Mary's open-handed 
gratitude on the plea that the Saviour is out of reach. Por every 
purpose of devotion — for giving Him pleasure, for testifying 
our own thanks, for winning in the end His praise — it is 
really all the same if we minister to His poor ones as if 
we spent our money on Himself. Through this appointed 
channel is our homage to reach Him there where, priest-like, 
He stands at the heart of this ailing race, a sharer in each man's 

This means that the face of every man and woman and little 
child we pass in the street — sin-scarred or careworn or tear- 
stained — must be to us as the very face of Christ. Behind that 
marred countenance, under that brutalized, besotted husk, lies 
hidden a beautiful brother, waiting for the manifestation of the 
sons of God. Dare we think cheaply and contemptuously of the 
vilest man whom Christ loves, for whom Christ died ? Since He 
is not ashamed to call them brethren, for His sake they are sacred 

^ J. stalker. The Ohristology of Jesus, 241. 
' Christina G. Eossetti, Poetical Works, 148. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 40 415 

and dear. The touch of His nature, the blood of His sacrifice, 
make the whole world kin. 

Tf The people we know personally, the men we work with, the 
women we mix among, our own companions, our own servants, 
our own neighbours, have this imperious claim for ministration, 
whenever we grow aware of their need. Often they will not, or 
cannot, seek us out; it is for us to seek them out. They are 
perhaps prisoners of pride or reserve or shyness, and our sympathy 
must penetrate to them. The people who most deserve help will 
hardly ever bring themselves to ask for it. But it is love's 
instinct and prerogative to anticipate Christ's necessities before 
ever He makes a request. 

I was hungry, and Thou feddest me; 

Yea, Thou gavest drink to slake my thirst: 
Lord, what love gift can I offer Thee 

Who hast loved me first ? 

Feed My hungry brethren for My sake; 

Give them drink, for love of them and Me: 
Love them as I loved thee, when Bread I brake 

In pure love of thee.^ 

^ Edward Irving caused it to be engraved on the silver plate 
of his London church, that when the offerings of the people no 
longer sufficed for the wants of God's poor, the sacred vessels were 
to be melted down to supply the deficiency. He was right. It 
is the Master's mind. Christ has expressly transferred to the 
honest and suffering poor His own claim on the devotion of His 
people. Even while He was warmly defending the action of 
Mary of Bethany on that Saturday evening. He hinted that after 
He was taken away from the reach of our personal homage 
the poor would remain with us in His stead. He made this still 
more plain on the following Wednesday. When, in the majestic 
passage before us, He foretold with dramatic vividness the awful 
transactions of the judgment, He made it for ever unmistakable 
that the enthusiastic love of the Church for her absent and 
inaccessible Lord is now to pour itself out in deeds of practical 
beneficence, finding in the distressed a substitute for Him who 
was once the Man of Sorrows.^ 

^ The saying, " The poor ye have always with you," was 
literally true with Lord Ashley, and it remained true to the end 

' T. H. Darlow, The, Upward CaUing, 218. 

^ J. O. Dykes, Plain Words on Or eat Themes, 160. 

4i6 UNTO ME 

of his life. The state of the weather, depression in trade, illness, 
bereavement, separation from children or friends — these and a 
hundred other things suggested to him no extraordinary cause of 
complaint as they affected himself personally, but they led him 
invariably to think how much more terrible similar circumstances 
must be to the poor and friendless. Nor did his sympathy exhaust 
itself in merely thinking about the poor and friendless. During 
the pauses in the greater labours which absorbed so much of his 
time, he would devise schemes for the relief of those within his 
reach, and would make the help he gave a thousandfold more 
acceptable by the manner in which he gave it. He was never 
too proud to grasp the hand of a poor honest man, or take up a 
sickly little child in his arms, or sit in the loathsome home of 
a poor starving needlewoman as she plied her needle. He never 
spoke down to their level, but sought to raise them up to his, 
and his kindly words were as helpful as his kindly deeds. The 
time had not yet come for that personal devotion to the welfare 
of the poor which distinguished his later years ; that was only at 
this period occasional which afterwards became continual, but the 
principle that inspired it was the same ; it was devotion to Him 
who had said, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least 
of these, ye have done it unto me." To Lord Ashley, Christianity 
was nothing unless it was intensely practical.'- 

Look you to serve Me but above? 

Nay, rather serve Me here below; 
Would you on Me heap out your love? 

On want and sin your love bestow; 
Have I not said it? What you do 

To these. My poor, ye do to Me; 
Whatever here I take from you 

Sevenfold returned to you shall be. 
Doubt not if I am here; with eyes 

Of mercy know Me, wan and pale. 
What ! hear you not My anguished cries. 

My moans and sighs that never fail ! ^ 

3. Our Lord sets their true value upon the unconscious ser- 
vices that we render to our fellow-men. " Ye did it unto me," 
even when ye knew it not. There is a holy art of anonymity, the 
giving and doing for His sake and for His eye alone, which is 
as beautiful as it is rare, and which imparts to those who have 

' The Life and Work of the Seventh Eml of Shaftesbury, 175. 
" "W. 0. Bennett. 

ST. MATTHEW xxv. 40 417 

learned to practise it an inner peace and glory which nothing else 
can produce. It is this that determines the value and quality of 
every action — is it done for Christ and for His glory alone? 
Our debt to Him is payable at the bank of humanity's need, and 
He estimates at its eternal worth all that is done to alleviate that 
need, even though it be unattended with blare of trumpets and 
the limelight of self-advertisement. " By Him actions are weighed." 

^ It is said that when Thorwaldsen, the Danish sculptor, 
returned to his native land with those wonderful works of art 
which have made his name immortal, chiselled in Italy with 
patient toil and glowing inspiration, the servants who unpacked 
the marbles scattered upon the ground the straw which was 
wrapped around them. The next summer flowers from the 
gardens of Eome were blooming in the streets of Copenhagen, 
from the seeds thus borne and planted by accident. While 
pursuing his glorious purpose, and leaving magnificent results in 
breathing marble, the artist was, at the same time, and un- 
consciously, scattering other beautiful things in his path to give 
cheer and gladness. 

So Christ's lowly workers unconsciously bless the world. 
They come out every morning from the presence of God and go 
to their work, intent upon their daily tasks. All day long, as 
they toil, they drop gentle words from their lips, and scatter little 
seeds of kindness about them; and to-morrow flowers from the 
garden of God spring up in the dusty streets of earth and along 
the hard paths of toil on which their feeb tread. The Lord knows 
them among all others to be His by the beauty and usefulness of 
their lives.^ 

^ There is one motto which is more Christian than Mr. G. F. 
Watts' saying, " The utmost for the highest," and that is, " The 
utmost for the lowest." Life's biggest and bravest duties are, 
according to the teaching of Jesus, owed to " the least of these my 
brethren." While we are all applauding the sentiment that God 
helps those who help themselves, the one outstanding Christian 
teaching is that God helps those who cannot help themselves; 
and that when Christ thrust into the foreground of His pro- 
gramme the weak, the helpless, the morally, spiritually, and 
economically insolvent, and told an astonished world that the last 
should be first, the least should be greatest, and the lost should be 
found, He was "setting the pace" for all who aspire to follow 

1 J. R. Miller, Glimpses Through Life's Windows, 11. 

2 0. Silvester Horiie, Pulpit, Flatform, and Parliament, 81. 
ST. MATT. — 27 

4i8 UNTO ME 

Wherever now a sorrow stands, 
'Tis mine to heal His nail-torn hands. 
In every lonely lane and street, 
'Tis mine to wash His wounded feet — 
'Tis mine to roll away the stone 
And warm His heart against my own. 
Here, here on earth I find it all — 
The young archangels, white and tall, 
The Golden City and the doors. 
And all the shining of the floors! 

The Blood op the Covenant. 



Barry (A.), The Atonement of Ch/rist, 59. 

Brown (C. J.), The Word of Life, 86. 

Hammond (J.), The Forgiveness of Sins, 91. 

Hoare (J. Q.), The Foundation Stone of Christicm Faith, 199. 

Horton (R. F.), The Teaching of Jesus, 109. 

Ives (E. J.), The Pledges of His Love, 91. 

Kuegele (P.), Country Sermons, New Ser., i. 109. 

McGarvey (J. W.), Sermons, 56. 

Maclaren (A.), Expositions : St. Matthew xviii.-ixviii., 243. 

Moody (D. L.), Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers, 156. 

Salmon (G.), The Reign of Law, 37. 

Smith (D.), The Feast of the Covenant, 41. 

Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xxxiii. (1887), No. 1971. 

Stewart (E. A.), The City Pulpit, iv. 25. 

Vaughan (C. J.), Liturgy and Worship of the Church of England, 225. 

Wheeler (W. C), Sermons and Addresses, 138. 

Church Times, July 2, 1909 (P. G. Irving). 

The Blood of the Covenant. 

This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto remission 
of sins. — Matt. xxvi. 28. 

1. This verse is intensely interesting, because it contains one of 
our Lord's rare sayings about the purpose of His death. For the 
most part the New Testament teachings on that great theme 
come from the Apostles, who reflected on the event after it had 
passed into history, and had the light of the resurrection upon it. 
Still, it is not just to say that the Apostles originated the doctrine 
of the atonement. Not only is that doctrine foreshadowed in 
Isa. liii. ; in the institution of His Supper our Lord also distinctly 
sets it forth. Before this He spoke of His life being given as a 
ransom for many (Matt. xx. 28), and He called Himself the Good 
Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John x. 15). 

2. In the institution of the Supper, Christ distinctly tells us in 
what aspect He would have that death remembered. Not as the 
tragic end of a noble career which might be hallowed by tears 
such as are shed over a martyr's ashes ; not as the crowning proof 
of love ; not as the supreme act of patient forgiveness ; but as a 
death for us, in which, as by the blood of the sacrifice, is secured 
the remission of sins. And not only so, but the double symbol in 
the Lord's Supper — whilst in some respects the bread and wine 
speak the same truths, and certainly point to the same cross — has 
in each of its, parts special lessons intrusted to it, and special 
truths to proclaim. The bread and the wine both say, " Eemember 
Me and My death." Taken in conjunction they point to that 
death as violent; taken separately they each suggest various 
aspects of it, and of the blessings that will flow to us therefrom. 

T[ It is said that old Dr. Alexander, of Princeton College, when 
a young student used to start out to preach, always gave him a 
piece of advice. The old man would stand with his grey locks 
and his venerable face and say, " Young man, make much of the 

* 431 


blood in your ministry." Now I have travelled considerably during 
the past few years, and never met a minister who made much of 
the blood and much of the atonement but God had blessed his 
ministry, and souls were born into the light by it. But a man 
who leaves it out — the moment he goes, his church falls to pieces 
like a rope of sand, and his preaching has b6en barren of good 

The Covenant. 

1. Christ speaks here of a covenant. Most religions pre- 
suppose some form of covenant with the object of their worship. 
The idea fills and dominates the Old Testament. And thus Christ 
found a ready point of attachment, a foundation of rock, on which 
He could build up His new order of truth. A covenant is a 
compact, an arrangement, an agreement, a contract between two 
persons or two parties, involving mutual privileges, conditions, 
obligations, promises. The Hebrew word appears to have the idea 
of cutting, and hence primitive contracts or covenants were made 
by the shedding of blood or the sacrifice of an animal. 

2. After God had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, 
He entered into a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. A 
covenant is an agreement betwixt two, securing on a certain 
condition a certain advantage. The advantage under the covenant 
at Mount Sinai was that the Lord should be their God and they 
His people ; and the condition was that they should observe His 
Law. " And Moses came and told the people all the words of the 
Lord, and all the judgements : and all the people answered with 
one voice, and said. All the words which the Lord hath spoken 
will we do." 

But the children of Israel proved unfaithful. In the pathetic 
language of Scripture, " they went a whoring after other gods, 
and bowed themselves down unto them : they turned aside quickly 
out of the way wherein their fathers walked, obeying the com- 
mandments of the Lord; but they did not so." And therefore 
the covenant was cancelled. "They rebelled, and grieved his 

* D. L. Moody, Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers, 161. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 423 

Holy Spirit : therefore he was turned to be their enemy." He 
abandoned them to the lust of their hearts, and they suffered 
disaster after disaster till they were stricken with the final blow, 
the Babylonian Captivity, and laid in the very dust. 
But that was not the end. 

What began best, can't end worst, 
Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst. 

His heart still yearned for them. " He remembered the days of 
old, Moses, and his people." He could not let them go, and He 
turned to them in their misery. He raised up a prophet in their 
midst, and charged him with a message of hope. They had broken 
the first covenant, but He would grant them a fresh opportunity 
and enter into a new and better covenant with them. " Behold, 
the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant 
with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah : not 
according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the 
day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land 
of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an 
husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this is the covenant 
that I wilhrnake with the house of Israel after those days, saith 
the Lord ; I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their 
hearts will I write it ; and I will be their God, and they shall be 
my people ; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, 
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall 
all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, 
saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin 
will I remember no more." 

^ Is it not a grand thought that between us and the infinite 
Divine nature there is established a firm and unmovable agree- 
ment? Then He has revealed His purposes; we are not left 
to grope in darkness, at the mercy of « peradventures " and 
" probablies " ; nor reduced to consult the ambiguous oracles of 
nature or of Providence, or the varying voices of our own hearts, 
or painfully and dubiously to construct more or less strong bases 
for confidence in a loving God out of such hints and fragments of 
revelation as these supply. He has come out of His darkness, 
and spoken articulate words, plain words, faithful words, which 
bind Him to a distinctly defined course of action. Across the 
great ocean of possible modes of action for a Divine nature He 


has, if I may say so, buoyed out for Himself a channel, so that 
we know His path, which is in the deep waters. He has limited 
Himself by the utterance of a faithful word, and we can now 
come to Him with His own promise, and cast it down before Him, 
and say, " Thou hast spoken, and Thou art bound to fulfil it." 
We have a covenant wherein God has shown us His hand, has 
told us what He is going to do and has thereby pledged Himself 
to its performance.^ 

3. This new covenant was to be, so the tremendous promise 
runs on, a spiritual one, an experimental and universal knowledge 
of God, a covenant of pardon, complete and sure. Jeremiah was 
allowed to see the covenant only as Moses saw the promised land 
from Pisgah. He never saw it realized, but he knew that every 
promise of God is an oath and a covenant. For he had learnt in the 
shocks and changes of his life the unfailing pity of Him with whom 
he had been privileged to have fellowship and to hold " dialogues." 
The old agreement was, "If ye will obey my voice and do my 
commandments, then " — so and so will happen. The old condition 
was, " Do and live ; be righteous and blessed ! " The new 
condition is, " Take and have ; believe and live ! " The one was 
law, the other is gift ; the one was retribution, the other is forgive- 
ness. One was outward, hard, rigid law, fitly " graven with a pen 
of iron on the rocks for ever " ; the other is impulse, love, a power 
bestowed that will make us obedient ; and the sole condition that 
we have to render is the condition of humble and believing accept- 
ance of the Divine gift. The new covenant, in the exuberant 
fulness of its mercy, and in the tenderness of its gracious purposes, 
is at once the completion and the antithesis of the ancient 
covenant with its precepts and its retribution. 

This glad era was ushered in by the Lord Jesus Christ, " the 
mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon 
better promises"; and, since it was necessary that a covenant 
should be ratified by a sacrifice, He, the true Paschal Lamb, at 
once Victim and Priest, sealed the new covenant with His own 
precious blood. Thus it was that He interpreted His Death in 
the Upper Koom. " He took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave it 
to them, saying. Drink ye all of it ; for this is my blood of the 
covenant, which is shed for many unto remission of sins." 

' A. Maclareu. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 425 

|[f The covenant is explicitly declared to be founded on Christ's 
expiatory death, and to be received by the partaking of His body 
and bloo(i. This importance of the person and work of Jesus, 
both for the inauguration and the reception of the covenant, 
agrees with the view that the covenant designates the present, 
provisional blessedness of believers, for this stage is specifically 
controlled and determined by the activity of Christ, so that St. 
Paul calls it the Kingdom of Christ in distinction from the 
Kingdom of God, which is the final state. The Covenant idea 
shares with the ideas of the Church this reference to the present 
earthly form of possession of the Messianic blessings, and this 
dependence on the person and work of the Messiah (cf. Matt. xvi. 
18, xviii. 17). The difference is that in the conception qf the 
Church, the organization of believers into one body outwardly, as 
well as their spiritual union inwardly, and the communication 
of a higher life through the Spirit stand in the foreground, 
neither of which is reflected upon in the idea of the 
Covenant. The Covenant stands for that central, Godward 
aspect of the state of salvation, in which it means the atone- 
ment of sin and the full enjoyment of fellowship with God 
through the appropriation of this atonement in Christ.^ 


The Sealing Blood. 

1. Christ regards His own blood as the seal and confirmation 
of the covenant. Covenants were ratified in different ways; 
sometimes, for instance, the contracting parties were held to be 
bound by eating salt together ; sometimes by partaking together 
of a sacrificial meal ; sometimes by passing between the divided 
pieces of slaughtered animals ; and especially by the use, still 
prevalent in many parts of the world, of blood, as by each of the 
parties tasting each other's blood, or smearing himself with it, 
or letting it be mingled with his own, etc., or by both jointly 
dipping their hands in the blood of the slaughtered animal. The 
idea, therefore, of a covenant in blood would not appear strange 
and new to the Apostles, or occur to them as repugnant, as it 
does to the minds of men of the Western modern civilization. To 
us, however far from the ideal we fall, and whatever compromises 
1 Geerliardus Vos, in Hastings' Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, i. 380. 


we adopt, we know our word ought to be our bond, our " yea " yea, 
and our " nay " nay. We have our stamped contracts because the 
ideal is still beyond the powers of human nature at large. But in 
the early days the shedding of blood was a form of ratification which 
no other emphasis could equal. It united, it "at-one-d," the 
parties concerned with a firmness which no verbal agreement 
could accomplish. 

Jeremiah's reference to Sinai bids us turn to that wonderful 
scene where the high mountains formed the pillars and walls of 
a natural temple, and where the first covenant was ratified with 
abundance of sacrificial blood. Moses, we are told, read the Book 
of the Covenant in the ears of the people ; and, taking the blood, 
sprinkled half of it upon the altar with the twelve pillars and 
half upon the people. The law was thus given with a covenant 
of blood. God thus bound the nation to HimseK. He had offered • 
great blessings if the people would keep the words of His law ; 
His people had responded: "All that Jehovah hath spoken we 
will do." 

Now it is impossible to suppose that Christ had no reference 
to the promises made through Jeremiah, and, through them, to 
the scene at Sinai. His Apostles, at least, so understood His 
words, "the new covenant in my blood." The writer of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews calls Him the new Moses, mediating a 
better covenant, founded on better promises. The cross was in 
His view, though none of His disciples saw it, in the Upper Koom. 
But He saw that His blood was to be the sacrificial blood in 
which the " new covenant " was to be sealed, confirmed, ratified. 
He was inaugurating a " new people," and was to lead them forth 
out of the Egypt of sin and alienation into the Promised Land of 
hoUness and the fellowship of God. He was to be the leader of a 
new emigration from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom 
of light and love. The bonds broken under the old covenant 
were to be reknit under the new covenant. The cup is the 
pledge, the symbol, of that new bond. And every time we drink 
the cup we are renewing the covenant which God has offered to 
all men in and through Christ. 

11 When the Greeks and the Trojans called a truce pending 
the single combat between Menelaos and Paris, they ratified it by 
a sacrifice. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 427 

He spake, and the throats of the lambs with pitiless blade 

he severed, 
And laid them low on the earth all quivering and gasping 
For lack of vital breath; for the blade their strength had 

And anon from the mixing-bowl they drew the wine in 

And poured it forth and prayed to the gods that live for 

And thus said one and another among the Achseans and 

Trojans : 
"Whiche'er of us, breaking the oaths, may do harm unto the 

Their brains on the ground be scattered e'en as this wine is 

outpoured — 
Theirs and their sons' — and their wives be a prize unto 


The custom was universal. The heathen observed it, and so did 
Israel. Thus it is written : " Gather my saints together unto me ; 
those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." ^ 

2. Christ's death was the consummation of His infinite sacri- 
fice, the further reach of His redeeming Love. When He had 
yielded His life in steadfast devotion to the Father's honour and 
patient travail for the souls of men, what more was possible? 
" Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his 
life for his friends." "But God commendeth his love toward 
us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The 
cross is our Lord's divinest glory; "for this," says Clement of 
Alexandria, "is the greatest and kingliest work of God — to 
save mankind." 

His death was not an isolated event. It did not stand alone. 
It was the consummation of His life, the crown of His ministry, 
the completion of His redemption. When the New Testament 
speaks of His death, it means not simply His crucifixion on 
Calvary, but all that led up to that supreme crisis — His steadfast 
obedience to the Father's will, which continued all the days of 
His flesh and found its ultimate expression when, with the cross 
before Him, He said, " Not my will, but thine, be done," and so 
freely gave Himself into the hands of wicked men to be mocked 
' D. Smith, The Feast of the Covenant, 41. 


and tortured and slain. His entire life was sacrificial — a truth 
which St. Paul expresses when he says, " Being found in fashion 
as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, 
yea, the death of the cross." 

1[ Here is a fundamental truth, essential to a just appreciation 
of our Lord's redeeming work ; and in these moving lines the 
poet has perceived what theologians have too often missed : 

Very dear the Cross of shame 
Where He took the sinner's blame, 
And the tomb wherein the Saviour lay. 
Until the third day came ; 
Yet He bore the self-same load. 
And He went the same high road, 
When the carpenter of Nazareth 
Made common things for God. 

A life of loving and constant obedience — this is God's require- 
ment. This it is that we have failed to render ; and His doing on 
our behalf what we have failed to do is our Blessed Lord's Atone- 
ment for the sin of the world.^ 


The Remission Secured by the Sealed Covenant. 

1. "Shed for many unto remission of sins." Eemission 
literally means " to throw back, or throw away," and the term is 
used simply because, when God forgives our sins, He is contem- 
plated as throwing them away, tossing them clear off, outside of 
all subsequent thought or concern in regard to them. There is 
another expression used in Scripture for the same thought, which 
is also figurative. " Eepent and turn," says Peter, " that your sins 
may be blotted out." They are contemplated in that expression as 
having been written down in some book of God's remembrance, as 
it were, and God in forgiving them is figuratively represented aa 
blotting out that writing. And blotting out with the ancients 
was a little more complete than it is, usually, with us. When we 
write something down with ink, and blot it out, there still remain 
some marks to indicate that once there was writing there. If 
' D. Smith, The Feast of the Covenant, 52. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 429 

you write on a slate and rub it out, some marks are often left. 
The ancients used a wax tablet. Take one of our common 
slates and fill it with wax even with the frame, and you will have 
an ancient wax tablet. A sharp-pointed instrument made the 
marks in the wax, and when they wished to blot it out, they 
turned the flat end of the stylus and rubbed it over, and there was 
an absolute erasure of every mark that had been made. That is 
the figure, then, used by Peter for the forgiveness of sins — indi- 
cating that when God forgives sins, they are not qnly thrown 
away, as in the expression remission, but they are blotted out — 
the last trace of them being gone, and gone for ever. 

From morn to eve they struggled — Life and Death, 
At first it seemed to me that they in mirth 
Contended, and as foes of equal worth, 

So firm their feet, so undisturbed their breath. 

But when the sharp red sun cut through its sheath 
Of western clouds, I saw the brown arm's girth 
Tighten and bear that radiant form to earth, 

And suddenly both fell upon the heath. 

And then the wonder came ; for when I fled 
To where those great antagonists down fell, 
I could not find the body that I sought. 
And when and where it went I could not tell ; 
One only form was left of those who fought, 

The long dark form of Death — and it was dead.^ 

2. But, it may be asked, how does our Lord's life of " obedience 
even unto death " avail for us ? It was His own life, and how is 
it linked on to our lives ? What is the nexus between it and 
them ? View it as the sacrifice which ratified the New Covenant. 
It is the covenant that links our lives to His. Eemember what 
the sacrifice at Mount Sinai signified. The victim was presented 
in the name of the people ; and the offering of its life at the altar 
was symbolic of the surrender of their lives to God. And even 
so Jesus is our Eepresentative. He is the second Head of 
humanity, and as, by the operation of those mysterious laws which 
link the generations, the entail of Adam's sin is the heritage of 
his children, so in like manner the righteousness of Jesus touches 

' Cosmo Monkhouse. 


us too. He lived His life and died His death in our name and on 
our behalf ; and, that we may enter into the covenant and appro- 
priate its benefits, we have only to acknowledge Him as our 
Eepresentative and say Amen to all that He did and all that He 
was. We have only to approach the throne of mercy in our sin- 
fulness and weakness and point to that holy life laid, in perfect 
devotion to the Father's will, on the altar of Calvary, making it 
our offering and presenting it before God as the life which we fain 
would live and by His grace shall live. And thus we lay our sins 
on Jesus, the spotless lamb of God, and, making His sacrifice our 
formula at once of confession and of consecration, win by it 
acceptance and peace. 

In all nations beyond the limits of Israel, the sacrifices of 
living victims spoke not only of surrender and dependence, but 
likewise of the consciousness of demerit and evil on the part of 
the offerers, and were at once a confession of sin, a prayer for 
pardon, and a propitiation of an offended God. And the sacri- 
fices in Israel were intended and adapted not only to meet the 
deep-felt want of human nature, common to them as to all other 
tribes, but also were intended and adapted to point onwards to 
Him in whose death a real want of mankind was met, in whose 
death a real sacrifice was offered, in whose death an angry 
God was not indeed propitiated, but in whose death the 
loving Father of our souls Himself provided the Lamb for the 
offering, without which, for reasons deeper than we can wholly 
fathom, it was impossible that sin should be remitted. 

II Let me mention here a circumstance in the last days of the 
distinguished Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, who, at an extreme age, 
but in full possession of all his rare mental powers, was brought 
to the knowledge of the Saviour. He said, " I never used to be 
able to understand what these good people meant when they spoke 
so much of the hlood, the Hood. But I understand it now ; it's 
just Substitution ! " Ay, that is it, in one word, Substitution — 
" my blood shed for many for the remission of sins," — Christ's 
blood instead of ours, — Christ's death for our eternal death, — 
Christ " made a curse, that we might be redeemed from the curse 
of the law." Once in conversation, my beloved friend. Dr. Duncan, 
expressed it thus in his terse way, " A religion of blood is God's 
appointed religion for a sinner, for the wages of sin is death." ^ 

1 C. J. Brown, The Word of Life, 91. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 431 

3. Theology has long laboured to explain the death of Christ 
on the theory that God, not man, was the problem : God's anger 
rather than man's cleaving to his sin. God was thought of as 
caring supremely for His outraged law, as indeed being bound by 
His law, as though law were a Divine Being with independent 
rights and a claim to compensation, as though a father could love 
a rule more than his own child. The difficulty lies in what we 
have made of ourselves. God's task is not to overcome His own 
resentment and say " I forgive," but to forgive so as to heal us of 
our self-inflicted wounds, to inspire us to forgive ourselves, to trust 
and hope for ourselves by trusting and hoping in His eternal love 
and patience. His forgiveness is not a word, or an act, but a self- 
communication. God Himself is the Atonement. "He is the 
propitiation for our sins." We may have done badly, shamefully. 
Good men may condemn us, suspect and distrust us, justly, for we 
condemn and distrust ourselves. But One believes in us and for us, 
hopes for us. God in Christ stands by the soul forsaken of all others. 
We " were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or 
gold, . . . but with precious blood . . . even the blood of Christ." 

^ No one that has ever read Tennyson's Guinevere can have 
forgotten the great forgiveness scene with which it closes. The 
guilty wife lies prostrate at her husband's feet, and grovels with 
her face against the floor. " Lo ! I forgive thee as Eternal God 
forgives," said Arthur. " Do thou for thine own soul the rest." 
Ah ! but one who forgives like God should do and say something 
more. A husband mediating God's forgiveness should show him- 
self able to trust a wife that can no longer trust herself, love one 
that loathes herself, hope for one that can only despair for herself. 
So the atoning love of God takes hold of Arthur, and he pours the 
ointment of love on the golden hair that lies so low, and he pours 
hope like oil into the dark soul and lights the promise of future 

"Hereafter in that world where all are pure 
We two may meet before high God, and thou 
Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and know 
I am thine husband." 

And while she grovell'd at his feet. 
She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck, 
And in the darkness o'er her fallen head, 
Perceived the waving of his hands that blest. 


Does not the human truth of that come to you ? Do you not see 
that beyond the wrong done to Arthur was the wrong done to 
herself? The task of forgiveness was not to slake the king's 
wrath, but to redeem the queen's soul and cure her of being the 
thing she had made of herself.-' 

4. The blood speaks of a life infused. " The blood is the life," 
says the physiology of the Hebrews. The blood is the life, and 
when men drink of that cup they symbolize the fact that Christ's 
own life and spirit are imparted to them that love Him. " Except 
ye eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have 
no life in you." The very hearb of Christ's gift to us is the gift 
of His own very life to be the life of our lives. In deep, mystical 
reality He Himself passes into our being, and the "law of the 
spirit of life makes us free from the law of sin and death," so that 
we may say, " He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," and 
the humble believing soul may rejoice in this ; " I live, yet not I, 
but Christ liveth in me." This is, in one aspect, the very deepest 
meaning of this Communion rite. As physicians sometimes tried 
to restore life to an almost dead man by the transfusion into his 
shrunken veins of the fresh warm blood from a young and healthy 
subject, so into our fevered life, into our corrupted blood, there is 
poured the full tide of the pure and perfect life of Jesus Christ 
Himself, and we live, not by our own power, or for our own will, 
or in obedience to our own caprices, but by Him and in Him, and 
with Him and for Him. This is the heart of Christianity — the 
possession within us of the life, the immortal life, of Him who 
died for us. 

•[[ Whatever life had anywhere been found and lost, whatever 
life had never been found, was given to man in Christ. It may be 
that this or that portion of the vast inheritance of life has never 
as yet been claimed, or has been but doubtfully claimed, because 
faith in Him has been too petty or wilful in its scope as well as 
too feeble in its energy. But in Christ life was given in its fulness 
nevertheless, and in that due subordination which alone secures 
that nothing be lost. This is the one character of the Gospel which 
takes precedence of all others; its many partial messages are 
unfoldings of its primary message of life. Salvation according to 
Scripture is nothing less than the preservation, restoration, or 
exaltation of life : while nothing that partakes or can partake of 

1 J. M. Gibbon. 

ST. MATTHEW xxvi. 28 433 

life is excluded from its scope ; and as is the measure, grade, and 
perfection of life, such is the measure, grade, and perfection of 

5. "Shed for many." The terms of the covenant are com- 
prehensive. The cup commemorates the supreme moment when 
the barrier between God and man was swept away, and the access 
to communion with God was opened by "a new and living 
way." It bids all men remember that the Divine life and love 
are free for all who will receive them. Whosoever will may 
come and enter into the covenant of God in Christ. None 
are excluded save those who exclude themselves. Here is our 
comfort. Salvation does not rest on our goodness of character 
or on our worthiness of conduct, but on the covenant relation- 
ship in Christ. Such an immense debt will prevent us from 
taking liberties with our life, and will continually inspire in 
us a devotion to serve as our talents allow and our opportunities 

Tf Jesus died to Iring in the Kingdom of God. That is one 
thing we can be sure of. Now, what was this Kingdom of God as 
conceived by Him ? Subjectively considered, it was the reign of 
God in men's hearts, and to establish it thus involved the bring- 
ing of men to God, so that His Spirit should possess their hearts 
and they be made the true children and heirs of God. The Cross 
was meant to be effectual for this. Its aim was ethical, and 
nothing short of that which would lead to an ethical Salvation 
would be the bringing in of the Kingdom of God. But the 
Kingdom had also an objective aspect. As such, it was the Kingdom 
of God's Grace ; it was something that should come from God as 
His great gift to men; it was the drawing nigh of God to the 
sinful, and as yet unrepentant, world, with the proclamation of 
Forgiveness, nay, with the assurance of it as the foundation of a 
solemn Covenant made with men ; and it was only through the 
coming of the Kingdom in this objective way that it could come 
effectually, or, in its power, subjectively. Christ therefore intended 
that His Cross should bring to men the assurance of the Divine 
Forgiveness. . . . The Divine Forgiveness or Eemission of Sins 
that comes to men through the Cross is not the Forgiveness of 
individual sinners on their Kepentance (which was always open to 
men), but the Forgiveness of God going forth to the whole sinful 
world, in order to lead men to Eepentance and to make them 
1 F. J. A. Hort, The Way, The Truth, The Life, 100. 
ST. MATT. — 28 


members of God's Kingdom. It comes as the proclamation of a 
Divine amnesty to men, but it is of no avail unless it is accepted 
by them so as to make them loyal members of the Kingdom, and 
followers of that Eighteousness which alone can give final entrance 
into it.^ 

» W. L. Walker, Tlie Cross aud The Kiuydom, 241. 

Christ's Parting Charge. 



Broughton (L. G.), Table Talks of Jesus, 96. 

Brown (0.), The Message of Ood, 46. 

Brown (H. D.), Christ's Divinity School, 68. 

Campbell (E. J.), New Theology Sermons, 50. 

Cross (J.), Old Wine and New, 185. 

Dyke (H. van), The Open Boor, 85. 

Fremantle (W. H.), The Gospel of the Secula/r Life, 91. 

Greenhough (J. G.), Ghristicm Festivals and Anniversaries, 123. 

Ingram (A. F. W.), The Gospel in Action, 45. 

John (Griffith), A Voice from China, 38. 

Liddon (H. P.), Easter in St. Paul's, 393. 

Morgan (G. C), The Missionary Manifesto, 29. 

Moule (H. C. G.), Christ's Witness to the Life to Come, 135. 

Newman (0. E.), The Bible in the Pulpit, 225. 

Simpson (J. G.), Christian Ideals, 309. 

Smellie (A.), In the Secret Place, 3. 

Stubbs (0. W.), Christus Imperator, 18. 

Terry (G. P.), The Old Theology in the New Age, 119. 

Vaughan (C. J.), University Sermons, 233. 

Virgin (S. H.), Spiritual Sanity, 47. 

Welldon (J. E. C), The Fire upon the Alta/r, 54. 

Cambridge Review, xx., Supplement No. 510 (F. H. Chase). 

Christian World Pulpit, viii. 100 (H. W. Beecher) ; xliii. 300 (R. Rainy) ; 

Iv. 248 (C. Gore) ; Ixviii. 67 (J. Foster) ; Ixxi. 309 (0. Brown). 
Churchman's Pulpit : Pt. 82, Mission Work, 183 (W. Leitch). 
Record of Christian Work, xxxii. (1913) 4^9 (J. H. Jowett). 


CHRIST'S Parting Charge. 

And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, sayingf, All authority hath 
been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make 
disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost ; teaching them to observe all things 
whatsoever I commanded you : and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the 
end of the world. — Matt, xxviii. 18-20. 

1. In Galilee as in Jerusalem the Eisen Saviour manifested 
Himself to the representatives of His universal Church. The 
brief summary of the history which St. Matthew gives calls up 
before our eyes a scene of singular majesty and awe. The time 
we are not told ; we may conjecture that it was again a Lord's 
Day, the day which even then was becoming hallowed as the 
weekly memorial of the resurrection, the birthday of the Lord 
into the new life, and the birthday of His people in Him. The 
place is " the mountain " — the mountain of the Beatitudes, or the 
mountain where once He had fed the crowds. The occasion 
differs from all those which had gone before. At other times He 
had appeared at most to a handful of His followers. Now, if we 
may interpret the hint of the Evangelist by the statement of 
St. Paul, there were with the Eleven five hundred of the 
brethren. At other times He had come suddenly and un- 
expectedly. Now the place is of His appointment, the meeting 
of the disciples by His command. It is, to use a phrase of 
the Epistles, the first Christian Ecclesia — the conscious gather- 
ing of those who belong to Him into His presence as the one 
centre and secret of their common life. He comes not suddenly, 
as before, but as a looked for friend approaching from the 

When the Eleven saw Him, they, assured now of His resurrec- 
tion, " worshipped him." But " the others " — the greater part, it 
may be, of the waiting multitude, who as yet had not themselves 

seen — "the others doubted." They had expected, we may con- 



jecture, to behold clear tokens of unearthly majesty, signs which 
should have compelled belief; and lo, it was "the same Jesus" 
whom they had loved and followed in earlier days who was now 
drawing nigh. " The others doubted." They had all obeyed their 
Master's call ; they were all true to the instincts of sacred fellow- 
ship. But they had not all attained to the same measure of faith. 
They could not all bear the test of a spiritual crisis. They could 
not all at once give the Lord the glad welcome of an unquestion- 
ing worship. The fact of their doubt is recorded, but the 
Evangelist does not stay to give the details of the sequel. 
Doubtless he would have us understand that to them, as to the 
Eleven, Christ spoke ; that on them, as on the Eleven, Christ laid 
the burden of His great commission ; and that as they listened to 
His voice, as they learned something of the work which was to be 
the portion of His followers, their misgivings probably did not find 
a precise and logical answer, but melted away in the enthusiasm of 

2. The text may well fascinate the theologian, for it has some- 
thing to say about the nature of God. It throws some light on 
the Person of Christ, and is a part of the very significant testimony 
which He bears to Himself. The text may also engage the 
thoughts of the ecclesiastic, for it has suggestions to make as to 
the ministry of the Church and the conditions of admission to the 
membership of the Church. But the text is of supreme interest 
to the missionary, because it is the charter of his enterprise, and 
sets forth four things concerning the enterprise to guide his work, 
test his success, quicken his conscience, support his faith, feed his 
courage and enthusiasm — its aim, its field, its obligation, and its 
encouragement. The aim of missionary enterprise is to make 
disciples of Christ, receive them into the fellowship of His Church, 
and teach them His will and train them in His grace. The field 
of missionary enterprise is the world as represented by " all the 
nations " ; the obligation of missionary enterprise rests on the 
final command of Him who wields all authority in heaven and on 
earth, and has the right to command; the encouragement to 
missionary enterprise is the Presence in "all the days" of the 
risen Christ who commands all the means necessary for the 
establishment of the Kingdom of God. 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 439 

This great utterance of our Lord falls into three parts : 
I. A Great Claim — " All authority hath been given unto me 

in heaven and on earth." 
II. A Great Commission — " Go ye therefore, and make 
disciples of all the nations." 
III. A Great Assurance — "Lo, I am with you alvyay, even 
unto the end of the world." 


The Claim. 
"All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." 

1. In these words Jesus, standing on the resurrection side of 
His grave, in the simplest language made the sublimest claim 
when He thus declared Himself to be King by Divine right, and 
therefore absolute in His Kingship. The word admits of no 
qualification. The claim admits of no limitation. In that 
moment He claimed authority in the material, mental, and moral 
realms. The application of His claim to this world does by no 
means exhaust it. He swept the compass with a reach far wider, 
more spacious, and stupendous. Nob only on earth but in heaven 
is authority given to Him. The one phrase, "in heaven and on 
earth," includes the whole creation of God. It is manifest that 
He is excluded who created, and who puts all things under the 
feet of His King. It is equally manifest that all is included 
which comes within the scope of that comprehensive word, the 
creation of God. We may interpret this final claim of Jesus by 
the prayer He taught His disciples : " Our Pather which art in 
heaven. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy 
will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." Having completed His 
ministry of teaching ; having accomplished His exodus and resur- 
rection, at last He claimed authority in heaven and on earth, thus 
assuming the throne of empire over the whole creation of God, 
included in the terms of the prayer, and now defined in the words, 
" as in heaven, so on earth." 

"[J Who is it that dares thus confidently to make this amazing 
claim ? Who is it that utters it as if it were a simple matter of 


fact about which there was no question ? Not merely power or 
might (Siimfiig), such as a great conqueror might claim, but 
" authority " (l^ovsla), as something which is His by right, con- 
ferred upon Him by One who has the right to bestow it (Eev. ii. 
27). And " all authority," embracing everything over which rule 
and dominion can be exercised ; and that not only " upon earth," 
which would be an authority overwhelming in its extensiveness, 
but also " in heaven." Human thought loses itself in the attempt 
to understand what must be comprehended in such aiithority as 
this. Nothing less than the Divine government of the whole 
universe and of the Kingdom of Heaven has been given to the 
Eisen Lord. In more than one Epistle, St. Paul piles up term 
upon term in order to try to express the honour and glory and 
power which the Father has bestowed upon the Son whom He 
has raised from the dead. The glorified Christ is " above every 
principality and authority and power and dominion, and every 
name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which 
is to come" (Eph. i. 21; comp. Col. i. 16-21; Phil. ii. 9-11). 
Nevertheless, with all his fulness of language, the Apostle does 
not get beyond, for it is impossible to get beyond, the majestic, 
inexhaustible reach of the simple statement which Christ, with 
such serenity, makes here.^ 

2. The words "hath been given" point to a definite time 
when this all-embracing authority was conferred. When was 
it given ? Let another portion of Scripture answer the ques- 
tion — "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according 
to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead." Then 
to the Man Jesus was given authority over heaven and earth. 
All the early Christian documents concur in this view of the 
connexion between the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ 
and His investiture with this sovereign power. Listen to Paul : 
"Becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a 
name which is above every name." Listen to Peter : who " raised 
him up from the dead, and gave him glory." Hear the writer of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews : " we see Jesus ... for the suffering of 
death crowned with glory and honour." Hearken to John : to Him 
" who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the 
ruler of the kings of the earth." Look with his eyes to the vision 
of the " Lamb as it had been slain," enthroned in the midst of the 

■' A. Plummer. 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 441 

throne, and say whether this unanimous consent of the earliest 
Christian teachers is explicable on any reasonable grounds, unless 
there had been underlying it just the words of the text, and the 
Master Himself had taught them that all power was given to Him 
in heaven and on earth. As it seems impossible to account for the 
existence of the Church if we deny the resurrection, so it seems 
impossible to account for the faith of the earliest stratum of the 
Christian Church without the acceptance of some such declara- 
tion as this, as having come from the Lord Himself. And so the 
hands that were pierced with the nails wield the sceptre of the 
universe, and on the brows that were wounded and bleeding with 
the crown of thorns are wreathed the many crowns of universal 

^ The resurrection of Christ marked the acceptance of His 
work by the Father, and revealed the triumph in which that 
work ended. Death and all the power of the enemy were over- 
come, and victory was attained. But the resurrection of Christ 
was also His emergence — His due emergence — into the power and 
blessedness of victorious life. In the Person of Christ life in 
God, and unto God, had descended into the hard conditions set 
for Him who would associate a world of sinners to Himself. In 
the resurrection the triumph of that enterprise came to light. 
Now, done with sin, and free from death, and asserting His 
superiority to all humiliation and all conflict. He rose in the ful- 
ness of a power which He was entitled also to communicate. He 
rose, with full right and power to save. And so His resurrection 
denotes Christ as able to inspire life, and to make it victorious in 
His members.^ 

3. This claim means the success of His life purpose. He had 
told His disciples that He would build His Church; that He 
would lead it as an army in conflict against evil and its issues, 
and in victory over all, including the very gates of Hades; -that 
He would erect a moral standard, and make them. His disciples. 
His interpreters thereof, giving them " the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven." Immediately following this declaration of purpose, He 
had spoken to them of the necessity for the cross, and they, with 
faith faltering, had seen Him die. Notwithstanding all He had 
foretold them, they looked upon the cross as evidence of His 
failure to accomplish His purposes. From their standpoint of 
1 R. Eainy, Epistle to the PMUppians, 239. 


observation, it was impossible for one who died to build a Church, 
and lead an army, and insist upon a moral standard. But now 
they saw Him in all the glory of resurrection life, and knew that 
therein He demonstrated His power to build a Church, having 
passed through death and become the firstborn from among the 
dead. They knew that He had the power to combat sin and 
overcome it, for He had taken hold of death, which is the ultimate 
of sin, and in His mastery of death had revealed His ability to 
deal with sin. He had lived in perfect conformity with His own 
ethical standard, and when His life resulted in His rejection by 
men and His being put to death, it had seemed as though the 
impossibility of obedience was proved ; but now, standing in the 
power of risen life, He claimed authority, and thereby suggested 
that His own victories vindicated His right to be the ethical 
Teacher of the world. 

4. But in this claim we have not merely the attestation of the 
completeness of Christ's work, we have also the elevation of Man- 
hood to enthronement with Divinity. For the new thing that 
came to Jesus after His resurrection was that His humanity was 
taken into, and became participant of, "the glory which I had 
with thee, before the world was." Then our nature, when perfect 
and sinless, is so cognate and kindred with the Divine that 
humanity is capable of being invested with, and of bearing, that 
"exceeding and eternal weight of glory." In that elevation of 
the Man Christ Jesus, we may read a prophecy, which shall not 
be unfulfilled, of the destiny of all those who conform to Him 
through faith, love and obedience, finally to sit down with Him 
on His throne, even as He is set down with the Father on His 

^ No system thinks so condemnatorily of human nature as it 
is, none thinks so glowingly of human nature as it may become, 
as does the religion of the cross. There are bass notes far down 
beyond the limits of the scale to which ears dulled by the world 
and sin and sorrow are sensitive ; and there are clear, high tones, 
thrilling and shrilling far above the range of perception of such 
ears. The man that is in the lowest depths may rise with Jesus 
to the highest, but it must be by the same road by which the 
Master went. " If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with 
him," and only " if," There is no other path to the throne but 

ST. MATTHEW xxvm. 18-20 443 

the cross. Via crmis, via lucis — the way of the cross is the way 
of light. It is to those who have accepted their Gethsemanes and 
their Calvarys that He appoints a kingdom, as His Father has 
appointed unto Him.^ 


The Commission. 

" Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations." 

The all-ruling Christ calls for the universal proclamation of 
His sovereignty by His disciples. He craves no empty rule, no 
mere elevation by virtue of Divine supremacy, over men. He 
regards that elevation as incomplete without the voluntary 
surrender of men to become His subjects and champions. With- 
out its own consent He does not count that His universal power 
is established in a human heart. Though that dominion be all- 
embracing like the ocean, and stretching into all corners of the 
universe, and dominating over all the ages, yet in that ocean 
there may stand up black and dry rocks, barren as they are 
dry, and blasted as they are black, because, with the awful 
power of a human will, men have said, "We will not have 
this man to reign over us." It is willing subjects that 
Christ seeks, in order to make the Divine grant of authority 
a reality. 

•[f This command must appear, when we consider it, to be 
simply astonishing. Here is, as it seems, a Jewish peasant, 
surrounded by a small company of uneducated followers, bidding 
them address themselves in His name to races, ancient, powerful, 
refined ; to win their intellectual and moral submission to doctrines 
and precepts propounded by Himself. "Go ye therefore, and 
make disciples of all the nations." The only idea of empire of 
which the world knew was the empire of material force. Wher- 
ever the legions of Eome had penetrated, there followed the judge 
and the tax-collector: and the nations submitted to what they 
could not resist, until at length their masters became too weak 
to control or to protect them. As for an empire of souls, the 
notion was unheard of. No philosopher could found it, since a 
philosopher's usual occupation consisted mainly in making intel- 

^ A. Maclaren. 


lectual war upon his predecessors or contemporaries. No existing 
religion could aim at it, since the existing religions were believed 
to be merely the products of national instincts and aspirations; 
each religion was part of the furniture of a nation, or at most of a 
race. Celsus, looking out on Christianity in the second century 
of our era, with the feelings of Gibbon or of Voltaire, said that a 
man must be out of his mind to think that Greeks and Barbarians, 
Eomans and Scythians, bondmen and freemen, could ever have 
one religion. Nevertheless this was the purpose of our Lord. 
The Apostles were bidden to go and make disciples of all the 
nations. Yes ; all the nations. There was no nation in such 
religious circumstances, none so cultivated, none so degraded, as to 
be able to dispense with the teaching and healing power of Jesus 
Christ, or to be beyond the reach of His salvation.^ 

1. The great aim of the missionary is to make disciples. No 
doubt he is a civilizer, but he does not go to heathen lands in the 
interests of civilization ; he goes to proclaim salvation by grace. 
He is the friend of commerce, education, freedom of every kind, 
and rapidly promotes them wherever he goes ; but he does not go 
to China, India, and the islands of the South Seas in order to 
circulate Western ideas of trade, culture, good government, and 
social weal; he goes to represent the character, announce the 
will, illustrate the grace, offer the salvation, and promote the reign 
of the God whom Christ has made real and saving to us. And 
whatever improvements he may help to make in the outward 
conditions in which the people live, he has not fulfilled his 
distinctive mission until he has given them " the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," and 
won them to a trust in and love of God that will free them from 
their idolatries, cleanse them from their immoralities, and make 
them worshippers with intelligent conviction, zeal and courage in 
their devotion. Indeed to give them Western civilization without 
Western religion, with its powerful ethic to illumine and discipline 
their conscience, would be to multiply their power of sin and 
mischief and tend to their corruption. To give China, with her 
vast population and material resources, the civilization of Europe 
and America without the Christ who is its light and salt would 
be to make her the menace of the world, and to create a " yellow 
peril " indeed. 

' H. P. Liddon, Easter in St, Paul's, 398, 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 445 

1[ I was hearing the other day the testimony of a Coptic judge 
in Egypt as to how the very idea of justice had for the first time 
dawned upon the fellah in Egypt when he saw that he, poor 
man, was going to get his Nile water, a thing hitherto inconceiv- 
able, equally with his rich neighbour. We bring justice, and yet 
even the justice of administration, glorious as that gift is, does not 
get to the inner heart and conscience of men. It does not give 
them the peace to live by in their private life ; it does not create 
character ; it does not get to the conscience or the heart.^ 

2. " Baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the 
Son and of the Holy Ghost." " Baptism," it has been well said, 
" is the oldest ceremonial ordinance that Christianity possesses ; 
it is the only one which is inherited from Judaism." Immersion 
of the body in water is naturally symbolical and suggestive of 
purification ; so, in the sacrament of Baptism, the one essential of 
entrance into the Kingdom of God is visibly set forth. It is a 
Kingdom into which nothing unclean can enter, yet in Baptism 
the right of every man to inherit the Kingdom is declared, and 
the condition of admission revealed. Baptism, therefore, is the 
token of a universal Church ; it is not the symbol of a sect, or 
the badge of a party; it is a visible witness to the world of a 
common humanity united in God. 

^ Dr. Moritz Busch, the Boswell of Prince Bismarck, relates 
this story. It happened some time ago that King Frederick of 
Denmark conferred upon the great German Chancellor the Grand 
Cross of the Danebrog Order. One of the rules of that order is 
that every one who receives the decoration of its cross must set 
up his name and arms in the principal church at Copenhagen, 
with a motto which must be chosen by himself, and must bear a 
double or ambiguous meaning. " So I hit upon this motto," said 
Prince Bismarck, " ' In Trinitate rohur,' alluding to the trefoil, the 
clover, which was the old device of our family." " And what was 
the other meaning ? " said Dr. Busch. " Was it, ' My strength is 
in the Triune God' ? " And the answer was given with a solemn 
gravity " Yes, just so ; that is exactly what I meant." ^ 

3. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com- 
manded you." Those who come under the influence of the pro- 
clamation of the Lordship of Jesus, and, yielding to it, pass 

1 Bishop Gore. 

' J. E. C. Welldon, The Mre wpon the AUa/r, 69. 


through His death and resurrection into living union with Him, 
are to be taught " to observe all things whatsoever I commanded 
you." They are to realize in their own fellowship the actuality of 
His Kingship, and are to manifest through their corporate life the 
glory and grace of the Kingdom of God. This new society is 
formed wherever, as a result of the proclamation of His Lordship, 
men and women yield thereto ; a society of those who not only 
believe in His Lordship, but bend to it, and exhibit to the world 
the result of His Kingship in their individual lives and social 
fellowship. We hear a great deal in these days about the worth- 
lessness of mere dogmatic Christianity. Jesus Christ anticipated 
all that talk, and guarded it from exaggeration. For what He tells 
us here that we are to train ourselves and others in is not creed 
but conduct ; not things to be believed or credenda, but things to 
be done or agenda — " teaching them to observe all things whatso- 
ever I commanded you." A creed that is not wrought out in 
actions is empty; conduct that is not informed, penetrated, 
regulated by creed is unworthy of a man, not to say of a 
Christian. What we are to know we are to know in order that 
we may do, and so inherit the benediction, which is never 
bestowed upon them that know, but upon them that, knowing 
these things, are blessed in, as well a,a for, the doing of them. 

•[I Surely, if there be anything with which metaphysics have 
nothing to do, and where a plain man, without skill to walk in 
the arduous paths of abstruse reasoning, may yet find himself at 
home, it is religion. For the object of religion is conduct ; and 
conduct is really, however men may overlay it with philosophical 
disquisitions, the simplest thing in the world. That is to say, it 
is the simplest thing in the world as far as understanding is con- 
cerned; as regards doing, it is the hardest thing in the world. 
Here is the difficulty, to do what we very well know ought to be 
done ; and instead of facing this, men have searched out another 
with which they occupy themselves by preference — the origin of 
what is called the moral sense, the genesis and physiology of 
conscience, and so on. No one denies that here, too, is difficulty, 
or that the difficulty is a proper object for the human faculties to 
be exercised upon ; but the difficulty here is speculative. It is 
not the difficulty of religion, which is a practical one ; and it often 
tends to divert attention from this. Yet surely the difficulty of 
religion is great enough by itself, if men would but consider it, to 
satisfy the most voracious appetite for difficulties. It extends to 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 447 

rightness in the whole range of what we call conduct ; in three- 
fourths, therefore, at the very lowest computation, of human life. 
The only doubt is whether we ought not to make the range of 
conduct wider still, and to say it is four-fifths of human life, or 
five-sixths. But it is better to be under the mark than over it ; 
so let us be content with reckoning conduct as three-fourths of 
human life.^ 


The Assurance. 

•' Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." 

There are four ways in which this verse has been regarded. 
Some say that the words are fiction : that they were never spoken 
by the Lord ; that they were born in another man's mind ; that 
they have no vital relationship with the thought and purpose of 
Jesus, and therefore we should employ a penknife and cut them 
out. The second statement made concerning them is that the 
report is accurate, but the claim presumptuous. We are told 
that, like all other great leaders of men, the Nazarene had 
moments of unillumined ecstasy. There were times when, like 
Mohammed, like Luther, like John Wesley, He lost the true 
perspective and purpose of things. Or, to put it more plainly, 
these are the words of a fanatic, and due allowance must be 
made for exaggeration. Then there is a third way. The 
words were certainly spoken, but they were never intended 
to be taken literally. They are symbolic and figurative, and 
we must beware not to spoil them by getting away from 
the symbolism. We must exercise the imagination and in- 
terpret them upon the purely human plane. The fourth way 
is this : that the words are simply, naturally, literally and 
gloriously true; that the Master said them; that He meant 
just what He said, that He — Jesus the Christ, a personal, 
conscious, intelligent presence — is for ever abiding with His 
disciples, sharing all the difficulties of the pilgrim road, par- 
ticipating in their triumphs right away to the end of the world. 
That is the witness, the overwhelming witness, of the Christian 


' Matthew Arnold, Literature <md Dogma, chap. i. 


1. What then do the words signify? First of all, they 
promise a personal presence. The assurance of Jehovah's presence 
— " certainly I will be with thee " — is repeated ever and again in 
the histories and oracles of the Old Testament. To Jacob, to 
Moses, to Joshua, to the Judges, to Jeremiah, to Israel in the 
land of exile it was vouchsafed as the seal of pardon or as the 
pledge of guidance and of needed strength. But the promise then 
must have seemed vague and uncertain. Jehovah was far away, 
unseen, an awful Judge and King. The Incarnation transfigures 
man's whole conception of God's nearness to him. Christ speaks 
as Friend to friend, loving and loved. The promise is Divine as 
of old, but now it is human also. The Speaker we know has had 
His part in flesh and blood, in toils and temptations, in life and 

Tf George Eliot said that the Lord Jesus, when He was upon 
earth, gave a sort of impulse to the race, and that impulse 
remains to our own day and, therefore. He lives. It is some- 
thing like an engine, shunting on the railway. The engine gives 
the train a sudden impact and then stops. And the trucks 
continue on the strength of the impact given, while the engine, 
remains dead. And, says George Eliot, and all who believe in her 
teaching, it is perfectly true that He is with us now in a dumb, 
vague, blessed impulse. Is that your Jesus ? If I may recall my 
illustration of the train, I will tell you of my Jesus. When the 
Lord came and put Himself on the train He went with it, and He 
is with it now. " I am with you, not merely as some dumb, 
contributory impulse, a dying dynamic ; I am with you a living 
presence, conscious, intelligent, knowing you and offering the 
powers of the Infinite to save you and to complete the plan of 
your life, and lift you into a life of holiness with God." ^ 

2. It is an abiding presence: "I am with you alway." The 
Lord, using the simple idiom of His native tongue, says " aU the 
days." The pledge is precise and detailed. It goes hand in 
hand with the Church into all the vicissitudes of her long and 
perilous journey. It has never been withdrawn or modified. 
The history of the Christian centuries is the record of its fulfil- 
ment. It is ours to-day — this critical day of the Church's life — 
to make us courageous in face of difficulty and calm in the midst 
of controversy. 

" J. H. Jowett. 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 449 

That word " alway " separates Him from every other teacher 
the world has ever seen. If you want to know how infinite is the 
separation, take down the biographies of some of the superlatively 
great leaders of the human race. Listen to their last words, and 
when you have their message in your ears come back to this,' and 
you will feel that you are in another world. Take that great 
book of Plato in which he describes the last few moments when 
Socrates is leaving his disciples. It is a beautiful picture, tragic, 
pathetic, winsome. But you never find Socrates even whispering 
that when he has left his disciples he will remain with them, a 
personal attendant spirit among them. Take the Apostle Paul 
himself — next to the Lord, perhaps, the greatest man among 
men— and read his Second Epistle to Timothy, where you 
get his almost farewell word: "I am now ready to be 
offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have 
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept 
the faith : henceforth " — I will remain with you ? Not a sug- 
gestion of it. The great men of our race do not come within 
an infinite distance of suggesting that they will remain among 
their disciples. This makes the Lord unique: "Lo, I am with 
you alway." 

Tf Charles Lamb said that he sat at his desk in the East India 
House till the wood had entered his soul, so wooden were his 
duties. When I think of this I think there is nothing that 
cannot become monotonous, and again I think of one of the 
greatest souls that God ever made, pacing the fringe of the 
Sinaitic desert for forty years, the companion of sheep, a solitary 
soul ; and for forty years more leading about and about, a march 
without a goal, a people more stupid than the sheep, and I read 
" he endured." How ? Through Divine companionship. " The 
Lord spoke with Moses face to face." Then all monotony went. 
" He endured as seeing him who is invisible." And I think of a 
greater than Moses — the greatest of all — living for thirty years in 
the monotonous routine of an Oriental village, a peasant's cottage, 
and a carpenter's shop, and I say. He knows monotony, and He is 
with me on the dull bit of road. He may be the companion, and 
blessed be drudgery if He be near and I may feel the warmth of 
His love.^ 

Tf Look into any life which has been shaped and fashioned by 
living faith in Jesus, and you will see this promise fulfilled. 

' 0. Brown, The Message of God, 54. 
ST. MATT. — 29 


Where the many toil and suffer, 

There am I among Mine own; 
Where the tired workman sleepeth, 

There am I with him alone. 

Never more thou needest seek Me, 

I am with thee everywhere: 
Eaise the stone, and thou shalt find Me; 

Cleave the wood, and I am there. 

3. It is a Victorians presence. The phrase "the end of the 
world " may be better rendered " the consummation of the age." 
The ultimate victory of the King is implied. There was no fear 
of failure in the heart of the King. The age initiated by His first 
advent will be consummated at His second ; and through all the 
toil He abides with His people, leading them in perpetual triumph 
as they abide in fellowship with Him. 

^ One of the most frequently quoted of the promises of Christ 
he held to be largely a conditional promise. As he interpreted it, 
" Lo, I am with you alway," following as it did the great com- 
mission, " Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every 
creature," left the impression that, failing the fulfilment of the 
commission, the promise was largely invalidated. On the other 
hand, he found a deep and perennial conviction, born of his 
experiences in the dangers and difficulties of his missionary career, 
that all men and women (and all Churches) that obediently carry 
out the command have still the Promise of Omnipotence — the 
Everlasting Word — of the Abiding Presence of the Son of God.^ 

^ When John Wesley had done his work and was even now 
passing within the veil, we are told that, gathering up what 
strength remained to him, he cried out, " The best of all is, God is 
with us." He had put Christ's promise to the test, as few have 
done ; and he had found it true. Christ's presence is for all the 
days of the Church's history, for each hour of the day of every 
Christian man's life — the light of life's solemn evening, but no 
less surely the strength of life's strenuous noon, and the Joy of 
life's bright morning. " The best of all is, God, God in Christ, is 
with us." ^ 

Tl I was reading the other day that glorious book of Charles 
Kingsley's, entitled, Teast. You remember how Nevarga, dirty, 
habit-stained, morally and spiritually broken, feeling utterly 

' John 0. Paton : Later Years, 85. 

' Bishop Chaae, in TJie CamTrridge Beview, zz. p. xciii. 

ST. MATTHEW xxviii. 18-20 451 

defiled, kneels away in the desert by a furze bush, and lifts up his 
heart to God and cries, " Then I rose up like a man and I spoke 
right out into the dumb, black air, and I said, ' If Thou wilt be my 
God, if Thou wilt be on my side, good Lord who died for me, I 
will be Thine, villain as I am, if Thou canst make anything of 
me.' " And Charles Kingsley says the furze bush began to glow 
with sacred fiame, and there in the desert the Lord Jesus found a 
new companion and made a new friend.^ 

1 J. H. Jowett. 

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